Tourist numbers increase

More tourists continue arriving in the country, promising further growth in the hospitality sector this year.

According to economic analysts Simonis Storm Securites, during the period spanning January to February of 2024, the collective number of international tourist arrivals at various nationwide airports amounted to 71 584 passengers, an increase from 57 921 passengers recorded during the corresponding period in 2023.

“However, it is worth noting that these figures, while showing an improvement, remain lower than the pre-pandemic benchmark of 88 907 passengers recorded in 2019,” said Simonis researcher Halleluya Ndimulunde.

The first two months of 2024 saw an average 35 792 arrivals, compared to 28 961 in 2023, indicating a sustained positive momentum, the researcher added.

In February 2024, Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA) was the leading primary gateway for passenger arrivals in Namibia, recording the highest number of passengers. Eros Airport and Walvis Bay also showed increased activity, with 3 487 and 3 070 passenger arrivals, respectively.

The data emphasises the significant position of HKIA within Namibia’s aviation industry, while also highlighting the valuable role played by smaller airports in facilitating regional travel and tourism. Additionally, this distribution of arrivals offers insights into the preferred geographical locations and travel behaviours within the country.

In March 2024, the occupancy rate across hospitality establishments nationwide reached 49,2%, showing an increase from 36,4% in the previous month and 43,7% in March 2023.

“The average occupancy rate for the first quarter of 2024 was 40,3%, compared to 54,0% in the previous quarter and 37,5% in the same period of 2023. This marks the highest quarterly occupancy rate since the start of the pandemic, signalling a positive beginning for the local tourism sector,” said Simonis.

March 2024 saw the coastal areas of Namibia achieving the highest occupancy rates, peaking at 55,3%. This was closely followed by the central regions, which posted rates of 53,9% and the southern areas at 49,5%.

Conversely, the northern regions experienced the lowest occupancy, with a rate of 45,8%. In March 2024, a total of 26 533 rooms were sold, marking a year-on-year increase of 19,1% and also the highest number of rooms sold nationwide since October 2023.

According to Ndimulunde, leisure tourism remains the cornerstone of the industry, drawing 93,1% of all visitors in March 2024.

The segment for business travellers also showed growth, increasing to 6,5% from 4,7% the previous month, while conference attendees made up a modest 0,4%.

Analysing the demographics of March’s visitors reveals a predominance of Europeans, who constituted 56,3% of the total. This was significantly higher than the proportion of local guests, who accounted for 27,1% of occupancy in hospitality establishments and South Africans, who represented 7,1%.

“This distribution highlights the continued appeal of Namibia as a prime destination for diverse tourist activities, particularly from European markets. We project gross domestic product growth rate of 3,4% for 2024, with the tourism sector playing a crucial role in achieving this target,” said Simonis.

“The sustained increase in both international arrivals and domestic occupancy rates highlights the industry’s vital contribution to the national economy’s dynamism.”

While business and conference tourism has yet to reach pre-pandemic levels, the significant potential for expansion in these areas remains untapped, said Ndimulunde.

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