Africa: COVID19 depletes Namibian Tourism Board reserve funds, as it sets to host branding conference

Namibian

The Namibian Tourism Board (NTB), is in dire straits as it struggles to sustain its activities in the industry following the depletion of its reserve funds by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to namibian.com.na, chief executive officer, NTB, Digu //Naobeb said ever changing travel restrictions in the sector has made it near impossible to generate revenue to run the industry.

//Naobeb, who was speaking at a press briefing on Saturday, said they have been self-sustainable since 2016 with tourism booming, however, these glory days have ended as they have requested for funds from the government.

“We had cash reserves but last year we started using them and we are about to deplete them. Come around October this year, we may be out of money and not be able to pay salaries,” he said.

READ: Africa: Analysts forecast at least a 2-year period for recovery of Namibia tourism industry

Before the world closed down last year as a result of the Covid-19 virus, NTB had a healthy cash reserve of N$30,2 million but this has come down to N$8 million.

Annually, NTB’s levies income would range between N$45 million and N$55 million.

This drastically dropped as more businesses in the sector closed and NTB only collected less than N$15 million.

NTB and stakeholders from other African countries will be hosting a branding conference in Namibia from 14 to 16 June with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) to establish a branding strategy for the continent’s tourism industry in an effort to attract more visitors.

The aim is to revive the sector amid the pandemic and find new ways to attract investment.

READ: Africa: Namibia’s tourism industry loses $220m due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdown

//Naobeb said the event will be iconic because the NTB and delegates will be looking at conceptualising branding Africa as a tourism destination, rather than a continent riddled with corruption, poverty and civil wars.

He added that the NTB board is reimagining the revival of Namibia’s tourism industry as the country plummets towards its third wave of infections from the coronavirus.

//Naobeb said the availability of vaccines was initially seen as an answer to tourism recovery, however, as countries have different requirements and the vaccines do not provide certainty, the industry needs to rework its strategy for recovery.

Furthermore, he noted that restrictions imposed by international source markets for tourists from countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy has thrown a spanner in Namibia’s plans to revive its tourism sector.

Among the revival plans is a focus on heritage and cultural tourism, for example cuisine, to make Namibia and the greater African continent an attractive travel destination in more ways than one.

//Naobeb added that Namibia is in a position to advertise itself as the prime travel destination given its many attractions like the Kalahari and Namib deserts.

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