The absence of proper, accurate and timely scientific statistics about tourism in Namibia is a barrier to tourism growth and development.
This worrisome trend is highlighted in the National Sustainable Tourism Growth and Investment Promotion Strategy 2016-2026 launched late last year.
The latest 2015 tourist statistical report was only released late August last year by Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta. The national strategy report suggests the environment ministry should ensure collection of relevant statistics for tourism activities, as well safeguard strong inter-agency communication.
The same report recommends that the ministry improves collection of tourism arrival statistics and strengthen its statistics unit. It further suggested that the ministry ensure institutional collaboration with regard to tourism statistics and ensure the collection of relevant data.
The latest tourist statistical report shows that the tourism sector is still healthy and has shown growth. It further indicates that international arrivals have increased by 3 percent from 2014 to 2015 and tourist figures increased by 5.1 percent over the same period.
The tourist figures indicate that overall the tourism market for Namibia in 2015 was dominated by tourist from the top ten source markets, which include Angola, South Africa, Zambia, Germany, United Kingdom, United States and France.
However, a decline in Angolan tourist arrivals was observed in 2015, which could be attributed to the financial crisis experienced in the country due to the facing out of the U.S dollar.
This also led to the retrenchment of workers and closure of business establishments in Oshikango and other northern and non-eastern towns, where many Angolans used to pass through.
Moreover, the national tourist strategy report identified one of the major weakness to Namibia’s overall competitiveness as a tourism destination being a lack of tailor-made courses or qualifications that suit industry needs.
To address this challenge the report proposes the development as matter of urgency of a tourism career map and to align tourism training to create a balance between skills-based and academic training.
It also says there is a need to ensure the full recognition of prior learning across all the subsectors of tourism and create and maintain a well-trained tourism workforce.
Another need is to ensure tourism opportunities are promoted through local awareness raising programmes and that qualified and appropriately trained staff are employed at Namibia Tourism Board, Namibia Wildlife Resort, Zambezi Waterfront and Windhoek Country club.
The report further suggests the Ministry of Tourism must ensure that the first impressions for tourists to Namibia are positive and memorable and that a country and sectorwide customer service excellence programme and a ‘Welcome to Namibia’ approach initiative is implemented.
The report further called on the authorities to make available funds for targeted skills interventions, such as for tour guides, hunters, and other skills-based tourism job opportunities.
Additionally, it calls for the creation of a training programme for enterprise managers with a focus on emerging tourism programmes in partnership with the private sector.