Namibia's Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta (Front) takes part in the inauguration of Etosha National Park perimeter fence in Onanke area, northwestern Namibia, Feb. 22, 2020. The upgrade of the perimeter fence is crucial for the conservation of the Etosha area because it will assist in the reduction of human-wildlife conflict. The 824 km perimeter would include stock-proof fencing, game-proof fencing and cable fencing. (Xinhua/Musa C Kaseke)
Namibia's Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta (Front) takes part in the inauguration of Etosha National Park perimeter fence in Onanke area, northwestern Namibia, Feb. 22, 2020. The upgrade of the perimeter fence is crucial for the conservation of the Etosha area because it will assist in the reduction of human-wildlife conflict. The 824 km perimeter would include stock-proof fencing, game-proof fencing and cable fencing. (Xinhua/Musa C Kaseke)

The Namibian tourism accommodation occupancy has reduced drastically despite efforts to revive the sector through domestic travel, an official said Thursday.

Gitta Paetzold, CEO of the Hospitality Association of Namibia, said the sector recorded only a 5 percent bed occupancy at registered facilitates countrywide since the relaxation of State of Emergency regulations.

“The 5 percent occupancy is very low and inadequate to grow or save the industry considering efforts made by various facilities and establishments to offer special packages and reduced rates to revive the industry reeling from COVID-19,” she said.

While the recorded 5 percent covers a short period, it still represents, a drastic decline if compared to the 53.5 percent occupancy at Namibian-registered establishments in 2019, according to Paetzold.

Meanwhile, she noted that the sector is in a panic over the ban on international travel.

“The only way to save tourism in Namibia is by gradually opening the borders. This can be done in a controlled manner and partnerships such as matching packages and bubbles between countries to enforce specific safety and health measures,” she added.

In the interim, Pohamba Shifeta, the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism said that the ministry, in collaboration with the various players in the tourism and hospitality sector is working on a tourism recovery plan.

Tourism operations came to a halt after the Namibian government announced a State of Emergency and subsequent lockout, with the national parks closed between April 17 and May 5. The government reopened parks and leisure establishments during stages two and three of the country’s State of Emergency. Enditem

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