Tourism Index released for first quarter
Operators expect a 10% increase in tourist numbers during the first quarter of 2014, with most of the tourists checking into bed and breakfast, guest farms, guest houses and tented lodges to maintain the growth momentum into 2014.
The FNB/FENATA Travel Index, the measure of tourism activity in the country, has risen by 2.7% from the previous quarter and 11.2% from the same period last year. So states Namene Kalili, Manager Research at FNB Namibia and compiler of the index.
Kalili stated that the travel index closed off last year’s fourth quarter on a strong note due to favourable exchange rates for foreign tourists, higher occupancy rates, stable domestic prices and stronger load factors on international flights. “The local currency lost ground against the Euro and the US Dollar, and thus travel to Namibia was 9% cheaper for European tourists and 6% cheaper for American tourists, based on exchange rate fluctuations. Furthermore, prices for accommodation contracted in local currency terms increased by 2.2%.
The load factor on international flights increased by 10% on account of fewer international flights, and hence tourists flew to Namibia more cost-efficiently. All these factors improved Namibia’s cost competitiveness during the fourth quarter, and hence the sector’s GDP contribution should increase accordingly. Positive revenue turnout was widespread, with tented lodges, hotels, tour operators, activity operators, guest houses and bed-and-breakfast establishments being the most optimistic,” said Kalili.
Even though international arrivals declined over the fourth quarter, there was an increase in occupancy rates measured at the local establishments. Kalili: “This was due to high numbers of local tourists who accounted for 45% of the total bed nights sold during the fourth quarter, particularly when it came to guest houses, rest camps, tented camps, and tented lodges. Operators expect a 10% increase in tourist number during the first quarter of 2014, with most of the tourists checking into bed and breakfast, guest farms, guest houses and tented lodges to maintain the growth momentum into 2014.” Employment levels continued to improve during the fourth quarter as the incidence of job losses within the sector continued to dissipate and incidence of new jobs begin to increase. 18% of the respondents increased employment during the quarter under review, as opposed to 10% a year earlier. Employment numbers are projected to improve marginally during the first quarter, particularly in the air charter, tented lodges and hotels sub-sectors, while the vast majority of the remaining sub-sectors expect employment levels to remain the same.
When looking at capital expenditure, Kalili advised that it increased during the fourth quarter, with 35% of the respondents reporting increased capital expenditure levels, particularly in the guest farm, lodge and tented lodge sub-sectors. The only sub-sector that reported negative capital-expenditure levels was the self-catering sub-sector. Looking forward to the first quarter, capital expenditure is expected to increase by 4%, with guest farms, guest houses and tented lodge sub-sectors leading the investment curve. Coincidently, these are also the same establishments that expect a strong increase in tourist numbers.