Namibia: High-risk rating a blow to tourism

Tourism and hospitality players say that designating Namibia as a high-risk destination is a huge blow to a sector already struggling due to the uncontrollable levels of new infections and deaths of Covid-19. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a travel warning for travelers to Namibia due to the surge in Covid-19 cases, putting the country under its fourth alert level.

The Chief Executive of Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) Digu // Naobeb yesterday described the rating as a huge blow to an already battered industry.

“It is a major blow and a catastrophic setback for the tourism industry, and indeed for Namibia whose economy is closely linked to a larger tourism landscape. The long-term cumulative impact will be the loss of income, foreign value, jobs and more distressed businesses that may be forced to close shop,” Nayob said.

The CDC uses Travel Health Notices (THNs) to alert travelers and other publics about health threats around the world and to provide advice on how to protect themselves.

On November 21, 2020, the CDC adapted its three-tier notification system to a four-tier system for Covid-19 and the updated criteria used to determine THN levels.

Against this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified Namibia under Alert Level 4, which means the country has a “very high level of Covid-19”.

The Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) warned last week that the country could be categorized as a high-risk destination due to rising Covid-19 cases and a slow vaccination campaign due to apathy to vaccines.

HAN CEO Gitta Paetzold said that this alone is already leading to cancellations in the system from July to September, which is currently a cause for significant concern in tourism.

She explained that while cases of Covid-19 in Namibia were expected to rise during the winter, as this has been the trend around the world, the current rate of increasing numbers is really alarming.

“The authorities base their travel restrictions and warnings on the findings of medical research institutes such as the CDC and RKI in Germany, who look at a country’s ‘per capita infection rate’ to determine the severity of the epidemic, an average maximum risk standing at 100 per 100,000,” Paetzold noted. .

Currently, Namibia’s average is above 160, which has pushed the country into risk-taking mode.

Another critical factor is the capacity of health facilities and services, and Namibia also faces huge challenges in this regard.

HAN advises that the only way to limit the situation is for everyone to take responsibility in terms of adhering to rules such as social distancing, mask wearing and sterilization.

“The key to the health and safety of all of us is that we all contribute to strengthening our immune system, through healthy living, vitamin C and D and responding to the government’s call for vaccination. We have that in our hands, individually and as a nation, to get through this crisis,” Patzold encouraged.

Although the NTB is not calling for a complete shutdown, // Naobeb urged a more coordinated campaign using leaders and influencers who have somehow been infected with Covid-19 to tell their stories even though they may be seen as too sensitive and emotional to help mobilize the vaccination campaign .

“Sure, vaccination is not bulletproof but it helps greatly in mitigating and mitigating the negative effects of Covid-19 and thus saving lives and helping to enhance the image and reputation of the country, which is now viewed negatively. This will help revive tourism” initiatives to address its depressing impact. Let’s come together and move in the right direction.”

In October last year, Germany listed Namibia as one of the high-risk destinations for coronavirus that tourists should avoid.