By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK DESPITE a relatively shorter summer school holiday, Namibian tourism at the coast and inland resorts generally remained consistent over the past festive season. This is the assessment of the Hospitality Association of Namibia and the Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR). “We have experienced a shorter holiday season due to the early closure and reopening of Namibian schools last year. This caused marked fluctuations in the number of Namibian visitors to the coastal areas. However, we experienced near full capacity houses at accommodation establishments in Swakopmund and Walvis Bay,” said Frank Lohnert, the Chief Executive Officer of the Walvis Bay Resorts Company, telephonically yesterday afternoon. Peter Mietzner, the Public Relations officer of NWR, indicated that there had not been a decline in his department’s holiday visitors’ numbers. “The numbers of visitors compared well to that of last year in Etosha. In fact, we have had a 5 percent increase in visitor numbers to the national park. Since this week, the numbers have dwindled to about 50 percent and towards the end of this month, we are expecting it to go below that margin,” said Mietzner. “Holidaymakers out of necessity left the coastal areas earlier than usual to bring their children back to school earlier. Holiday spending money among Namibian coastal visitors, a lower dollar exchange rate, pressures on businesses to stay open for longer hours to compensate for the shorter holiday, had a profound effect on the tourism industry at the coast,” said Lohnert. He further expressed concern about self-catering establishments that have mushroomed, taking a big chunk of clientele from the registered commercial accommodation establishments. “Many of these self-catering businesses are in some cases operating illegally because they are not properly registered, cause financial losses to commercial ventures because of the small size of the industry. However, generally we are satisfied with the performance of the market,” said Lohnert. NWR further reported that its coastal accommodation establishment had done fairly well irrespective of a downturn in visitor numbers. “Jakkalsputz, Miles 14, 72 and 108, experienced big declines in visitor numbers than what is usually the case. However, we are expecting an increase later in the year at these venues from the local market,” said Mietzner.
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