Windhoek – FNB Namibia has reiterated its commitment towards the tourism sector with sponsorships for a number of initiatives, including the Adventure World Travel Summit (ATWS) that is scheduled for October this year.”We know that tourism in Namibia gives Namibians across the country access to training, sustainable jobs, build infrastructure in communal conservancies and innovatively contributes to the positive image of Namibia abroad,” said the head of tourism at the bank, Sophia Snyman.
The bank introduced a tourism desk in 2009 to cater for the banking needs of the sector. Snyman says they have seen a number of changes within the tourism sector since the establishment of the tourism desk at the bank. “The desk was officially established in May 2009 just after the economic crisis and although we had our doubts about the future of tourism, we are happy to say that the industry proved us wrong,” she added.
Although there were some players exiting the industry and a change of hands of some establishments, the bank has not experienced major bad debt in its books. “However we noted concern from most of our customers about the inflow of tourist numbers. We also observed that some customers went back to the drawing boards and revisited their business strategies to align the businesses with current market trends,” she further revealed.
According to the FNB Namibia, the performance of the sector has stayed mainly flat during the past year and expected single digit growth. “The main contributors are the economic slowdown and the uncertainty caused by that in the key source markets. But on the bright side the weakened rand resulted in the fact that Namibia as a tourist destination became more affordable and a value-for-money destination,” she said.
FNB Namibia says the country can proudly look back at a number of positive initiatives, including the conservation efforts of the government and other key partners such as the World Wildlife Fund to promote conservation and especially the establishment and support of the community-based natural resource management programme.
These are attracting worldwide interest and also had a direct impact on the decision made by the Adventure Travel and Tourism Association to choose Namibia as the host destination of the summit that is to take place from October 26 to 31 with over 650 tourism industry professionals expected to attend. Challenges facing the industry include the future and service delivery of Air Namibia, and subsequently the effect that would have on the direct flights to Germany, which Snyman said remain a major concern for the tourism industry.
“The latest results obtained from the 2012/2013 Exit Survey reported that tourists from Germany and Italy are more likely to travel on Air Namibia, largely due to the direct service to Frankfurt,” she added. Other challenges, according to FNB Namibia, include the economic uncertainty in key source markets, which remains a risk as well as the relative marginal budget allocated to the Namibia Tourism Board, which is threatening the scope of establishing Namibia as a preferred tourist destination in the global tourism industry.
Date: 19 April 2013