Tourism sector calls for urgent amendment of gazette section covering the 72-hour PCR test issue
The Hospitality Association of Namibia, the Tour and Safari Association of Namibia and some key tourism service providers drafted an appeal for the review of the wording in the current gazette with regards to the 72-hour ruling on valid PCR tests necessary to enter Namibia.
A letter sent to the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism requests the public health regulations to be amended to the original wording of not older than 72 hours up to time of first embarkation.
“This is in line with the International Air Transport Association standard wording from ‘first embarkation’. This will make it possible geographically for visitors from high value source markets across time zones, including Far East Asia (Hong Kong, Singapore, China) and North America to reach Namibia,” the letter states.
The current public health regulations, which came into force on 15 August until 15 September, requires persons permitted to enter Namibia to, at the time of entering Namibia, present a SARS-CoV-2 PCR test result from the country of departure of not older than 72 hours calculated from the date that the sample for testing was taken.
The letter stressed if current wording were to remain in place, it would result in 60% cancellation of bookings held by long-haul travellers.
“This can be extrapolated to 30 or 40 businesses across Namibia in both rural and urban areas. Over a year, this would result in the loss of N$20 million bookings. Crude extrapolation across 40 businesses is up to N$800 million direct loss, and 3000 citizens stand to lose their jobs,” the letter states.
Further, the industry noted that changing the wording will harmonise the country’s regulations with South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya and many other countries.
“This change will help to keep businesses open. It will save Namibian jobs, and it will help to ensure that the tourism industry – Namibia’s 3rd largest industry prior to the pandemic – survives.”