OVER the past few years, Namibia’s attractiveness as a tourism destination has grown significantly, despite the fact that the global economic outlook remains uncertain, as most developed countries show sluggish growth, while emerging markets struggle to maintain their advances.
In essence, Namibia is well-poised to harness the benefits of a booming global travel and tourism sector, which clearly has no intention of slowing down.
By 2020, 1.5 billion international trips are planned globally, and the world is expected to add 39 million trips a year until then.
With this in mind, it is important for Namibia to begin enlarging its embrace of the online travel space, where travel product sales are being boosted by the development of new technology and diverse business models, across various markets.
Within this online space, mobile travel purchases are increasing at an alarming rate and this is being driven by the fact that mobile penetration rates, especially the penetration rate of smartphones, is increasing all over the world.
This, in turn, presents simpler payment methods, which facilitate travel purchases.
On the other hand, there should be concerted efforts across the country to encourage citizens to get out and explore their own country.
A major issue hindering industry progress is the lack of a travel culture, with most citizens perceiving travel as expensive and non-essential.
While Africa has traditionally been marketed as a safari destination, Namibia should start to move away from this, and start to explore other niche categories, such as medical tourism, ecotourism, adventure tourism and the like, which are becoming key industry facets that produce vast economic benefits for any host country.
Without doubt, there is an increase in the development of tailored holidays, with tailored packages for solo travellers also predicted to become a dynamic niche in the near future.
It is also important to note that travel industry players are increasingly implementing a multichannel approach – making use of various platforms to engage with consumers and drive traffic to their sites, using social media, metasearch engines and affiliate programmes.
This something that the responsible authorities in Namibia must take advantage of.
Notably, the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) sector is emerging as new growth frontiers and is one of the fastest-growing segments in tourism. The MICE sector is boosted by the growth in business travel, with over 36 billion business trips taken in 2016.
It is characterised by business travellers spending six times more than leisure tourists.
Today, the business volume of tourism equals or even surpasses that of certain commodity exports, food products or agriculture. Tourism has become one of the major players in international commerce, and represents, at the same time, one of the main income sources for many developing countries, with Namibia certainly not an exception.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015