During 2010, Namibia topped the Lonely Planet rankings as the best country to visit and last year, 2015, it was narrowly pipped at the travel polls by Singapore. It seems that international travellers have developed a long-standing love affair with this large, sparsely populated country in the South Western reaches of Africa, making the tourism industry in Namibia one of the biggest money-spinners in the country.
It is no real surprise that the Namibian tourist industry is a thriving one. With unique scenic landscapes to admire and a history of dedicated conservation efforts, this young African country holds many attractions for the foreign, as well as domestic, traveller. A few of these include:
- The oldest desert in the world and a world heritage site – The Namib
- A salt pan that is visible from outer space at Etosha National Park
- Thriving populations of rare and endangered species such as the black rhino
- Unique desert-adapted animals in the unlikely form of lions and elephants
- The picturesque Fish River Canyon
- The haunting shape of the trees at Dead Vlei
- The flourishing wilderness of the Caprivi Strip
- The desolate Skeleton Coast
- The hot springs at Ai-Ais
Apart from these obvious attractions there are many and varied activities to partake of like hot air ballooning, sky diving, caving, horse riding, wildlife safaris, dune boarding, camel riding, quad biking, hiking, fishing and tours to visit amazing archaeological sites and unique desert fauna and flora.
Most of these take place in and around Swakopmund which is the adventure capital of Namibia and one of the most popular areas for adventure seekers to visit. As a credit to the incredible adventure touristic facets of this country, Namibia was the host of the Adventure Travel World Summit, which did much to boost Namibian tourism even further. Apart from Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Windhoek with its upmarket accommodations and first-world infrastructure also attract sizeable quantities of business and leisure travellers.
Tourism prioritised by the Namibian Government
To get some idea of how tourism has grown in recent years, let’s have a look at some figures:
- According to the most recent forecast (2015) as released by the World Travel and Tourism Council, Namibia was expected to attract 1 186 000 international tourists during 2015 – a far cry from the 100,000 visitors recorded during 1989.
- Most visitors to Namibia hail from Angola, South Africa and Zambia, with Germany, the UK and France topping the list for European arrivals.
- In 2012, the Namibian tourism industry was responsible for 21 000 jobs. Today, over 102 000 people benefit both indirectly and directly from tourism-related employment.
Namibia’s success in the tourism arena can largely be attributed to government support. When Namibia attained independence from South Africa in 1991, cabinet declared tourism as a priority for economic development and by 1994, a White Paper on Tourism had been approved.
The Namibian Tourism Board (NTB) was set up in 2000 to regulate the industry and market Namibia.
The NTB is the watchdog of the following tourism aspects:
- Accommodation establishments
- Activity operators
- Air charter operators
- Booking agents
- Conference centre operators
- Foreign tour operators
- Shuttle and transport service operators
- Tour facilitators
- Tour and safari operators
- Trophy hunting operators
- Vehicle rental operators
A number of trade associations have also come to the fore with regard to keeping the tourism pot on the boil in Namibia, most notably:
- Federation of Namibia Tourism Associations
- Hospitality Association of Namibia
- Association of Namibian Travel Agents
- Car Rental Association of Namibia
- Tour and Safari Association of Namibia
Why not join the millions of people who have already discovered the joys of travel to Namibia? Book your ticket today and find out what all the fuss is about.