Out of the total foreign arrivals recorded, the larger number of 1.38 million were tourists, 15 580 were returning residents and 99 883 were same-day visitors.
Over 1.5 million people arrived in Namibia in 2015, representing a three percent increase from 2014 when 1.4 million arrivals were recorded.
This was announced by Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta yesterday when he officially launched the 2015 tourist statistical report. The report shows that the tourism sector is still healthy and has shown growth. It further indicates that tourist figures increased by 5.1 percent for the same period.
The tourist figures indicate that overall, the tourism market for Namibia in 2015 was dominated by top ten tourist markets which include Angola, South Africa, Zambia, Germany, United Kingdom, United States and France.
However, a decline in the Angolan tourist arrivals was observed in 2015 which could be attributed to the financial crisis that was experienced due to the phasing out of the U.S dollar in that country.
This also led to the retrenchment of workers and closure of some business establishments at the border town of Oshikango and other northern and non-eastern towns where Angolans regularly visited.
The report says these effects might persist for the next few years, hence business owners should consider changing their business concepts and customer segments to include Namibian clients and what can be affordable to the available Angolan tourists.
The report shows that there was a 0.7 percent decline in Chinese tourists compared to 2014.
Shifeta said regardless of the tourist origin, most tourists visited Namibia during the last quarter of the year – that is October to December – which accounted for 28.3 percent of all tourists travelling to Namibia.
“This speaks volumes, and we hope the tourism industry will take heart in these figures and continue working together to grow tourism in the country and ensure that Namibia becomes a preferred tourist destination in Africa,” he noted.
Looking at tourist arrivals, about 45.6 percent were visiting friends and relatives, 38.9 percent came for holiday and 12.9 percent visited for business purposes. Equally, the report shows that 70.8 percent of visitors travelled by road and only 27.1 percent came by air as a mode of travel.
Most tourists came through the north-eastern border posts (25 percent), followed by northern border posts (23.5 percent), while 23 percent came via Hosea Kutako International Airport.
Tourist arrival statistics show that those from Zimbabwe came with the intent to stay longer in Namibia as shown by an average of 31 days, followed by tourists from other African countries and Germany with an average of 25 days and 19 days respectively.
Those from Botswana and France stayed less at an average of 14 days.
The report highlights that the tourism sector should market itself aggressively and offer competitive services and prices.
“It will be necessary to turn the visitors in the visiting friends and relatives category into holiday and leisure travellers,” reads the report in part.
“The recently launched Domestic Tourism Survey revealed that this category does not significantly spend in Namibia since there is no need as they are with friends and relatives. It is therefore important that in terms of tourism growth that contributes to the gross domestic product, we aggressively market destination Namibia for holiday and leisure travellers.”