The Director of Tourism and Gaming at the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism in Namibia, Mr. Zebulun Chicalu has stated that since Covid 19 virus commenced, there has been intense support from the government to help revive the tourism sector.
In an interview with VoyagesAfriq, he stated that as part of the supportive measures the government with the help of UNDP in Namibia has done a study “we have done a macroeconomic assessment on the impact on Covid-19 on Tourism in Namibia and we have briefed the tourism private sector and stakeholders of the effects of Covid-19 on the economics of tourism and shared with them the vision on how to rebuild a tourism recovery plan now that we know its negative effects”.
“As I speak there is some energy between our public and private sector in terms of planning and doing things together. Starting from last year the government has been collaborating with the private sector by extending relief packages or business stimulus packages to the businesses in various forms which have been announced and companies have taken advantage of that.”
“However the government is also hurt by Covid-19 pandemic in terms of reduced tax revenue, therefore we are unable to extend specific financial relief further. But with regard to supporting the tourism sector like policies and Covid-19 health regulation adjustments to revive private businesses, the government has been supportive and we will continue to support a gradual tourism recovery process.” He added.
According to him, the tourism sector is coordinating major events which will help showcase Namibia as a preferred tourist destination.“We are now planning to participate in the Dubai World Expo 20, starting from October 2021 to March 2022,” he averred.
Speaking of how Namibia navigated through Covid 19 and managed to remain relevant to Africa’s tourism industry amidst the pandemic, Mr Chicalu posited that “the President of the Republic of Namibia and his Cabinet after seeing the negative effects of Covid-19; involving curfews and total lockdowns, realised that the country needed to make a special dispensation for the revival of tourism and out of this with a national initiative called the “international tourism revival initiative ” was birthed in June 2020 already.
“This special dispensation enabled us to open up International borders through air-connection and allow tourists to come through to the country from September 2020 and even issuing visas to leisure and business travelers upon arrival in Namibia” he added.
He stated that the government also launched national Covid-19 guidelines for tourism businesses to protect tourists entering the country and served as a guide to employees, tourism businesses, and tour operators to comply with the strict Covid-19 public health measures.
He, therefore urged tourists and guests all over the world to feel comfortable choosing Namibia as their safest tour destination since there have been strict Covid -19 protocols put in place to protect tourists.