Leisure travel market recovers and grows

Gitta Paetzold

The average room sales may have ended 2023 just under 2% lower than in 2019, but the average bed occupancy rate is over 1% higher than four years ago.

This shows an increase in the share of leisure travel to Namibia, which sees more double room occupancy than business travel.

Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) chief executive Gitta Paetzold says the portion of leisure travel in 2023 was just under 90%, compared to just under 84% in 2019 – a sign that both the business and conference travel markets have not yet recovered to the extent that the leisure travel market has and has even grown last year.

“The share of Namibian visitors at our tourism establishments dropped slightly last year, from 26% to just over 22,7%, while the South African component also saw a drop of just under 1% to 7,14% in 2023.

“This speaks to the economic limitations faced by the two nations,” Paetzold says, adding that the European markets all saw a healthy increase.

She says German-speaking countries constituted about 34% of total guests (up from just under 30% in 2019), while the French and Italian markets also saw increases of about 1,5% each.

“While aware of the growing economic downturn in European countries too, the number of people there are still financially strong enough to travel and the habitual strong urge to travel by Europeans in general makes this a secure travel source market,” she says.

According to HAN, the United States market has also shown healthy growth, reaching 4,12% in 2023, while visitors from the United Kingdom and Ireland made up over 3,6% of guests in Namibian accommodation establishments.

Paetzold says there was a visibly high increase in self-drive and camping tourism in Namibia, while the occupancy figures also do not reflect the healthy growth in tourism revenue through especially the growing high-end tourism segment gaining popularity in Namibia.

“Going forward, 2024 holds the promise of further growth, with Namibia still high in demand for the leisure traveller.

The international trends for 2024 include even more demand for high-end,-high quality tourism and it is encouraging to see the development of many such new properties offering this service in Namibia,” she says.

Paetzold says global operators predict that camping would go premium, with an increasing demand for camping travel across the globe, a market also well served by Namibia.

Furthermore, sustainable and family travel are in demand and journeys that allow memories to be made, such as to Namibia, for which one of the biggest European tour operators, DER Touristik, chose a theme-song for its summer travel promotions, called ‘Where the Sun Drops into the Sea’.

– email: matthew@nambian.com.na

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