With an average room occupancy of 71.7 percent recorded by Namibian tourism accommodation establishments last month, this year’s peak tourism month is officially the highest August occupancy recorded by the Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) in the last decade.
Based on occupancy reports submitted to HAN from its members, Namibia has seen a growth in guest numbers at accommodation establishments by more than 10 percent compared to August last year. Already in July, an increase of over five percent on 2015 was recorded in the local tourism industry, which has led to many tour operators speculating that this year could be one of the best yet for the industry.
While HAN data is not inclusive of all accommodation facilities in the country, the statistics compare well with similar data released by lodge groups recently and is seen as a good indicator of the status quo of the entire tourism sector. Last year was a less successful year for Namibian tourism (as well as for tourism in southern Africa in general), with general occupancy in August sinking to a low of 60 percent, causing some discouragement after the positive growth the previous year. Reasons for the slump were seen in the effects of the Ebola scare at the time, as well as restrictive visa and travel regulations imposed by South Africa.
In 2014, Namibia recorded an average room occupancy of 69.5 percent in August, until then the highest recording in occupancy after Namibia’s boom year of 2008, when the peak month of August recorded 65 percent.
The average occupancy for Namibian tourism accommodation establishments in the peak travel month of August over the past 10 years has been around 59.5 percent, making this year’s result of 71.7 percent a clear indication of the positive trend the sector is able to enjoy at present.
Based on the statistical records HAN holds of the past decade, German-speaking Europe still remains the largest source market for guests to accommodation establishments, with over 26 percent of guests to establishments in August over the past decade coming from either Germany, Austria or Switzerland.
Namibians frequenting establishments over the past 10 years were the second biggest group with 24.8 percent of all rooms occupied by locals in August, followed by South Africa, with close to 10 percent over the past decade.
This year, Namibians travelling in August were the highest occupiers of rooms at establishments, with 30 percent of rooms taken by Namibians, followed by a consistent share of 25.6 percent by German-speaking European visitors, while close to 12 percent of visitors at establishments came from South Africa.
According to HAN, the latest figures are a clear indication of the success of the domestic tourism marketing campaign the industry has conducted with the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism over the past few years, as well as the effective marketing by NTB Frankfurt in Europe and the continued popularity of Namibia in the well-established European markets.
Namibia currently ranks high on the list of popular travel destinations across the globe, partly due to the fact that other popular destinations for European travellers, such as North Africa, Turkey and other parts of the Mediterranean fell out of favour due to political turmoil.
According to HAN chief executive officer, Gitta Paetzold, the association is confident that Namibia’s popularity may even grow, if the tourism industry maintains its active marketing activities, ideally with more aggressive support and investment in destination marketing from government and other key stakeholders.
“Now is the time to leverage on the positive momentum currently experienced, so as to reach the full potential of Namibia’s tourism industry,” said Paetzold.