Over 1.4 million tourist chose Namibia as their tourist destination in 2014 compared to 1.3 million in the previous year marking an an impressive 7.6% increase in tourist arrival figures from 2013 to 2014.
Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta said at the launch of the annual tourist statistics this week, that tourist figures increased by 12% for the same period respectively, figures indicate that most visitors came from Angola with the highest number of visitors followed by South Africa, Zambia, Germany, United States and Portugal.
“This shows a substantial increase since Namibia gained its independence in 1990. We have seen a steady increase of tourists arrivals since we started doing statistics noting that in 1992 we received 220 000 tourist. We were to hit the 1 million mark in 2010 this was however not possible due to the World Cup in South Africa. However, we recovered and today we are celebrating 1.5 million tourists to the land of the brave or rather, destination Namibia,” said Shifeta.
“These figures give us the confidence that we are making global progress in our efforts to grow and develop the tourism industry as a global sector in a very competitive industry. Year-to-date, tourism sector performance especially inbound demand remain remarkably strong despite the persisting global economic crisis.”
The data further showed that regardless of the tourist origin, most tourists visit during the winter season, May to September, which accounted for 42% of all tourists traveling to Namibia.
Shifeta further said that they were expecting more visitors than what the statistics revealed. “We could have more tourists if not for the new visa regulations in neighboring South Africa and the Ebola scares in other parts of Africa may also be a reason for not having even more visitors.”
Also speaking at the launch, Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) Chief Executive Officer, Gitta Paetzold said the smoking ban in public places has had an impact on some businesses, “ There has been a 27% decline in restaurant and casino businesses.”
Paetzold however said the ban has not affected the hospitality that much.
Shifeta then urged all those involved in welcoming visitors especially at the points of entry to have warm and hospitable attitudes towards the visitors.
In conclusion the minister also highlighted the close link that the aviation industry has with the tourism industry. The Hosea Kutako international airport was recorded as the point of entry with the highest influx of tourist arrivals in 2014 representing 28% of the modes of transport used.