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Domestic Tourism Issues in Namibia

On a recent study via the Namibian Tourism Board regarding domestic tourism in Namibia, a conclusion was found that many respondents commented on the high prices of tourism services and accommodations. From the distributed questionnaire for a majority of Namibian locals, interviews, and observations, it was found that tourism in Namibia is focused primarily on the international market. This causes prices to increase beyond the affordability of many Namibians, which deters many potential tourists from travelling. Although the domestic tourism industry is currently not a major contributor to the Namibian economy, data analysis discovered that Namibians do spend money on travel but the amount spent and the amount Namibians are willing to spend differ greatly. If the Namibia Tourism Board and service providers do not fix this problem throughout Namibia, domestic tourism will diminish. Comments from responses to the questionnaires and interviews informed the third finding; the tourism industry does not cater to Namibians. The tourism industry in Namibia focuses on the international market. This creates a disparity in pricing and quality of services. The majority of guests are European, and only 31% of guests are Namibian. This percentage is at the unsatisfactory level. As stated, Namibians would like to see improvements in the tourism industry. Pricing in the industry remains a problem throughout the country and prevents Namibians from travelling. Poor quality of service and accommodations are also common complaints among tourists. If services are not improved, domestic tourists may not travel in Namibia (featured Image: Stock image)

Nevertheless, this issue has been going on for quite a while now (according to the NTB – since 2006) and to further see the extent of the matter, some outside links have been added at the bottom of this Post. So, if the information provided via the Windhoek Observer Newspaper is true, things should be looking up (?). Or is it? We would love some feedback from our local community if possible…

As far as we know, the following solutions and projects are currently being put forth:

Domestic travellers disembarking from an Air Namibia flight (by Air Namibia)

+ Conduct more research on domestic tourism

An NTB project has only just begun to determine the issues preventing the domestic tourism industry from expanding. Due to resource limitations, a small sample size was used in this study. Although the sample targeted the desired population of middle-class Namibians, the sample was not representative of the Namibian population as a whole. Several recommendations were made based on the collected data in order to improve the current domestic tourism industry; however, more research must be conducted before conclusive results can be determined. The Namibia Tourism Board should continue conducting research on the current state of domestic tourism in Namibia; specifically, the disposable income of Namibians and the amount of money Namibians are willing to spend on accommodations, activities, and transportation. This Project already seems to show some significant effects (click for more Info).

Sample image by Business 2 Community

+ Improve marketing strategies

From observation and interviews, the majority of service providers focus marketing towards international travellers. Therefore, Namibians are unaware of the types of attractions and accommodations available to them at affordable prices. To improve this situation, it is recommended that the Namibia Tourism Board distributes literature to service providers regarding the importance and potential benefits of domestic tourism, as well as successful domestic advertising methods to attract more locals to their establishments. A sample brochure that specifically markets domestic tourist attractions is included in the full report. Combined with segmentation of the Namibian market, marketing and branding techniques can be applied to better target the population of potential domestic travellers.

Midi-Bus Iveco by Namibian Car Rentals

+ Transportation service providers should establish a pass system

Transportation is an important part of any tourism industry but is a major problem throughout Namibia. As mentioned in the findings, the majority of domestic tourists travel by personal car because the bus and train systems are too expensive and often inaccessible due to scheduling issues. To help alleviate this and other problems, it is suggested that transportation service providers establish a pass system where individuals or families can pre-pay for a pass and receive discounts over a period of months. So in other words, by creating more affordable and easily accessible modes of transportation can encourage Namibians to travel more frequently.

Photo by Kamp Kipwe, Namibia

+ Encourage service providers to accommodate domestic tourists

The first approach is to create an understanding of the importance of domestic tourism to Namibia’s tourism market. This should be done through the distribution of literature describing the seasonality of international and domestic tourist travel, as well as disposable income data outlining suggested pricing structures that locals can afford. If the literature does not encourage service providers to reduce pricing, thus increasing the percentage of domestic tourists engaging in leisure travel, an incentive should be introduced.

Namibia Safari Holiday by Responsible Travel

+ Improve the variety and accessibility of attractions throughout Namibia

As previously noted, Namibians would most like to visit natural attractions. The Namibia Tourism Board should begin to identify and market underdeveloped and underutilized nature-based attractions throughout Namibia. Since the significant majority of questionnaire respondents expressed a desire to explore Namibia’s vast landscapes and changing scenery, successful marketing of such attractions would greatly encourage more domestic travel. Again, attractions in Namibia need to be marketed to Namibians. By reducing pricing and advertising low-cost attractions throughout the country, domestic tourists will be encouraged to travel within Namibia.

If the situation with domestic tourism does not change, the market may cease. Currently, service providers are forcing Namibians to spend money outside the country or not at all which brings the economy down. As discussed in the findings, Namibians do travel, would like to continue travelling, and enjoy travel in their home country but are prevented from travelling more due to several limitations such as high pricing, lack of marketing, inaccessible transportation, and poor quality of services. Domestic tourists must be motivated to participate in Namibian tourism which can be accomplished through several recommendations. To reduce pricing, service providers must see the benefit of the domestic tourism market. Wide-Scale distribution of literature and comprehensive data must be made available to service providers throughout Namibia explaining the importance of domestic tourism. Marketing practices must be implemented that focus on the local domestic tourist market in addition to the international domain. Transportation, accommodations, and activities need improvement both in quality of services and pricing. These recommendations are a means to begin changes in the domestic tourism market; however, further research and years of improvements are necessary to develop the industry to a sustainable level. There is a great sense of national pride and love of their country among Namibians. Through making changes to domestic tourism in the upcoming years, the country can evolve and grow into a greater Namibia: a country belonging to the people.

One recommendation which has been addressed by the Namibian Tourism Board

+ Encourage Service Providers to Accommodate Domestic Tourists

One conclusion made based on the analyzed findings was the need for service providers to accommodate domestic tourists. As stated, only 31% of guests at Namibia Tourism Board registered accommodations analyzed are Namibians. This figure needs to be improved to have a sustainable domestic tourism industry. To encourage Namibians to travel, discounts and reduced pricing plans must be made available. To produce the most profit from the tourism industry, service providers currently focus on marketing and pricing techniques to the foreign market. While prices are affordable to foreign travellers, the cost is much higher than Namibians can afford or are willing to pay. The majority of Namibians spend an average of less than N$1,500 on travel, accommodations, food and activities each while on holiday. With the current prices of accommodations and other tourism commodities, Namibian travellers are forced to stay with friends and relatives or at other low-cost accommodations. This situation does not contribute to the economy because less money is being invested in tourism as prices increase and people are less willing to travel. First, the realization of the importance and potential benefits of domestic tourism needs to be established.

Camping at Spitzkoppe, Namibia by Spiegel.de

+ The conclusion:

The recommendation of a widespread campaign to inform service providers of the importance of domestic tourism is the first step towards improving pricing. The distributed literature should explain the importance of domestic tourism to Namibia and include statistics outlining the benefits of increasing the number of domestic tourist clients. Further research should be 66 conducted discovering the average prices of tourism establishments throughout the country, as well as the amount Namibians can spend, and be presented to service providers in a comprehensive pricing guide. Currently, businesses do not know the prices of their competitors. By forcing the release of this information, the market will become more competitive and prices may be driven down in an attempt to bring in the greatest possible number of guests. An incentive can also be introduced to motivate service providers to accommodate Namibians; however, this should only be done if there are insignificant improvements in the domestic tourism market as a result of the distributed literature. One incentive could be a subsidized rate for the levy tax charged by the Namibia Tourism Board in exchange for proof of compliance to a price reduction and marketing campaign.

Photo by Arebush Lodge, Namibia

If companies devise a pricing plan and implement an advertising strategy to market the new price reduction, some levy tax should be waved. To measure the effectiveness of this plan and to ensure the validity of its implementation, businesses will need to provide data showing a certain percentage of increase in domestic clients. This will not only convince the Namibia Tourism Board of the success of the program but results could be organized and distributed to nonparticipating service providers throughout Namibia to further emphasize the importance and benefits of domestic tourism. Paired with successful marketing techniques, the redistributed literature would be helpful to many companies and the domestic tourism industry.

Links and downloads:

• Strategies for developing domestic Tourism in Namibia

• Stepping up local tourism marketing (The Economist – 2015)

• Domestic tourism neglected (New Era – 2017)

• Few Namibians visiting local tourist establishments (NBC – 2017)

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