The Federation of Namibian Tourism Association (Fenata) chairperson Bernd Schneider is of the view domestic tourism has to some extent been neglected. There is a growing concern that Namibians generally do not have a culture of taking vacations, as many prefer to go to their villages.
“Domestic tourism has for many years been neglected,” he said, adding that one of the things Namibia didn’t really do right over a couple of years was to promote a dual price system, whereby lodges offer different prices to locals and than to international visitors.
He said Namibian lodges and hotels were supposed to be affordable to locals, but are currently not affordable to many. In this regard Schneider called on the local tourism industry to establish and develop infrastructure that fits into that cost profile.
Although the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) continues to actively promote various domestic campaigns aimed at creating awareness, which has led to an increase in domestic travel, he called for more concerted effort to ensure locals enjoy the great beauty Namibia has to offer.
He also applauded the Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) that offer the NamLeisure card (family membership), in addition to standing discounts for locals, which stand at 25 percent and 35 percent for pensioners.
He said many Namibians have been travelling to national parks and campsites since NWR introduced the 75 percent discount for the past three years. “They travel to campsites where they take their braai along. They don’t need the fancy, luxury and upmarket lodges that often cater for international needs.
According to Schneider, many Namibians have turned to what is called camp elephants, which cost them very little. These are self-catering bungalows where people go with their own food and drinks over weekends to enjoy themselves.
NWR during February ran a promotion aimed at encouraging domestic travelers to sign up for a Namleisure card at 50 percent of the cost. The aim was to encourage domestic travelers to acquire a Namleisure card, which entitles them to 50 percent discount whenever they visit any NWR facility including Sun Karros Daan Viljoen.
The Namleisure card comes in three variations to cater to different travelers. There is the Single’s card, which is aimed at individuals, while Namleisure Plus is aimed at couples and seems to be the most popular option, while the Namleisure Family card is aimed at two adults and two children between the ages of 13 and 17 years old. At present NWR has over 4,000 Namleisure members.
According to the National Sustainable Tourism Growth and Development Strategy 2016-2026, there is no culture of taking vacations among Namibians to the extent that many do not take leisure holidays at all. “In their vacation time they go ‘up north’ to their villages. There is a need to raise awareness of the preferences of international visitors, since the culture does not exist locally,” the report shows.