Namibia hopes to have a diversified and competitive tourism sector which attracts 1,8 million tourists by 2022, according to the recently released fifth National Development Plan (NDP5).
According to the NDP5 document, Namibia remains heavily dependent on its top ten tourist destinations, hence the need exists to expand the number of tourist markets serving the country to ensure the sustainability of the sector.
Although Namibia has good infrastructure in most parts of the country, a lack of infrastructure in some tourist areas continues to hamper the growth of the sector, states the document.
Namibia is a remarkable and competitive destination because of its comparative advantages, which include the wide open spaces with spectacular landscapes, abundant wildlife resources, a diversity of experiences, excellent infrastructure, security, peace and stability, and a low population density, it states.
Namibia has a growing global reputation as a premier destination for ecotourism. The tourism industry is an important contributor to the generation of foreign exchange earnings, investments, revenue, employment, rural development, poverty reduction and to the growth of the country's economy.
Tourism also creates strong direct and peripheral benefits because of its multiplier effect, based on its reliance on a wide spread of supplies and services, states the document.
While most sectors have experienced a decline in employment in 2016, the hospitality accommodation and food services sector experienced a growth in employment between 2014 and 2016, according to the latest Namibia Labour Force Survey (NLFS) 2016 of the Namibia Statistics Agency.
The NLFS found that the number of people employed in the sector rose from 29 265 in 2014 to 47 840 in 2016, an increase of 18 575 jobs over the two-year period.
The NDP5 document further stated that hotels and restaurants increased by an average of 6,6% per annum during the NDP4 period, and contribute about 1,8% to GDP.
Retention and expansion to new markets, promoting local tourism, ensuring conservation as a key policy priority, and promoting communal conservancies and cultural tourism have been highlighted as some of the strategies to be employed to attract more tourists.
The country will also promote ecotourism in order to ensure that the environment and Namibia's uniqueness are protected, according to the document.
Continued investment in infrastructure could help to promote profitability and support the investment climate. In accordance with the National Tourism Investment and Promotion Strategy 2016-2026, it could help to promote PPP to attract foreign investment, as well as invest in roads linking tourist destinations and infrastructure with communal conservancies.
This will increase the number of tourists and foreign earnings, states the document.
Similarly, efforts will also be made to develop new tourism products by promoting Namibia as a meeting, incentive, conference and exhibition' (MICE) destination through the establishment of conferencing facilities, while the strategy also aims at incorporating cultural and creative sectors into tourism.