By Wezi Tjaronda
The country’s national carrier is reviewing its bilateral air service agreements ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Air Namibia’s General Manager Commercial Services, Helois //Hoabeb, said the company was having talks with interested parties in South Africa to have additional departure and arrival slots. Air Namibia also wants to have additional entry points to fly to Durban and other places and not just to the traditional points.
//Hoabeb was speaking during a plenary workshop for stakeholders in the tourism industry, which met yesterday to formulate the country’s marketing strategy ahead of the event in 2010.
He said Air Namibia saw an enormous opportunity in the event not only to retain the current route structures but also expand into routes in the European mainland where people are ‘crazy’ about soccer and into the West African region where there are good returns on investment. The expansion plans include additional flights to South Africa. Air access to the region is key and remains the ultimate challenge facing all arrangements for the World Cup or the region, including Namibia, said Federation of Namibia Tourism Associations (FENATA) president, Martin Webb Bowen. The same goes for car hire access.
He warned that poor supply management decisions at Air Namibia and other airlines flying into Namibia could negatively affect the tourism traffic from the region where Namibia obtains its long-term tourism clients.
Due to the current boom in tourism, Webb Bowen said there were insufficient seats to Southern Africa during the peak season.
“If there aren’t enough flights, particularly in business class, the high-end tourists that we believe are a part of the target market could have difficulty choosing this destination. If people cannot get here, there will be no benefit from 2010 and our regular clientele,” he said.
Although the duration of the event is limited, //Hoabeb said the impact it would leave on Southern Africa and the continent as a whole would be positive for business. The airliner has considered creating a catchment area within the European mainland and SADC, to position Namibia as a distributive point and to retain the EU existing flow of traditional passengers to Namibia
//Hoabeb said the airliner would optimise on pricing of tickets and offer competitive holiday packages for all supporters to include sight-seeing when people are not watching games. However, Namibia will have to extend its operating hours if need be, especially when games are being played late. It will also offer competitively priced accommodation facilities and reliable transport.
“To attract people to come to Namibia, we need affordable prices for accommodation”, he said. With over 250ǟ