Holiday-Makers Crowd Coast

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK With less than a week to go before the world explodes into Christmas celebrations, the popular holiday resort of Swakopmund is already filled to the brink with visitors from all over the country and beyond. Although the exact number of visitors present could not be obtained by Sunday, between 80 000 and 100 000 people are expected to will have travelled to Namibia’s second largest town and traditional summer capital Swakopmund by the end of the festive season. “We’re expecting a bumper season this year. The town’s population is likely to triple during this period,” said the public relations officer of the Swakopmund Municipality Freddy Kaukungua yesterday. Most hotels and other establish-ments are fully booked for this festive season. Some homeowners are also renting out their houses and rooms to visitors who were unable to secure accommodation for the season. It has become customary that during the summer holidays thousands of Namibians and foreign visitors flock to the coastal area, the country’s major holiday destination. Already the beach is filled with the colour of camping shelters and tents and other outdoor equipment, giving that festive feeling when people become merry and retire from the year’s hustle and bustle. Reservations Clerk at the Swakopmund Municipality, Anna-Marie Tjiurutue, also confirmed that tourists had already snapped up hotel rooms and that coastal resorts are already fully booked. Accommodation is so scarce that only if there are cancellations can one get a place to sleep. This year, the municipality has adopted a policy which requires that those who book bungalows have to find a replacement if they fail to make it or else the municipality will not refund them. In the past the municipality incurred losses when people reserved bungalows and never turned up. This prompted the municipality to demand payment with every booking. Kaukungua called on Namibians to visit the coastal town and indulge in merry-making and relax. Usually, there are more people during Christmas time than at New Year. Although crime is usually high in places where there are a lot of people, Detective Chief Inspector of Police in the Erongo Region, Sydney Philander, says people should feel welcome and safe, as police will do their job. Fatal accidents, also common around this time of the year, have so far been few and with measures put in place the situation is likely to be under control throughout this season, he said. “The crime situation as well as accidents in the region are normal despite the influx,” the detective chief inspector told New Era. Apart from the usual roadblock at Karibib, other checkpoints have been established all the way to Walvis Bay. For those with a habit of overloading their vehicles, Philander warned, strict measures are in place and culprits on Namibian roads will not escape unpunished. “We are serious about a zero tolerance (on crime and road offenders) approach,” he said. He added that the police in Erongo are conducting ongoing operations aimed at drivers who drink while on the road. He warned that anyone found guilty would face the full wrath of the law.