All roads lead to Namibia

The dawn of the tourist ... The number of visitors to Namibia increased by 13.5pc.

The number of foreign visitors to Namibia increased by 13.5 per cent last year but with a worrying reduction in visits from Germany and America, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism said in a report.

The report said tourism contributed up to eight per cent of the Gross Domestic Product last year, which was about $221 million.

The report released by the recently restructured Directorate of Tourism, said foreign visitors increased from 758,989 in the year 2000 to 861,184 last year, with 670,497 of them being tourists in 2001.

This represented a 13.5 per cent increase in the number of foreigners entering Namibia. The average intended length of stay of the tourists last year was 17.8 nights. The statistics indicated that between 1998 and 2001, visits by African tourists increased by 14.3 per cent, while Europe's share of tourists declined by seven per cent. It said the industry in Namibia was in a healthy state after a "slight" decline was experienced during the first half of 2001 due to the world recession, September 11 attacks in the US, instability in Angola and Zimbabwe, economic recession in Germany and the decline in direct air connectivity from long-haul markets to Namibia.

Interestingly, while the number of arrivals by German, British, French and Scandinavian nationals decreased from 1996 to 2001, the number of Zimbabwean visitors almost doubled -- up to 48.1 per cent. Nationals from Botswana (39.6 per cent), Angola (32,6 per cent) and Italy (14,7 per cent) also increased over the period 1996 to 2001. Approximately 51 per cent of the tourist arrivals in Namibia indicated that the purpose of their stay was for leisure, recreation and holiday.