Namibia: Kunene Welcomes Tourists’ Return

SINCE the lockdown in March, the Kunene region has been one of many regions badly affected after borders were closed to tourists.

The tourism industry is the livelihood of thousands of its inhabitants.

Ansta Gabathuler, owner of Farmhouse Restaurant Outjo Bed and Breakfast, says she is looking forward to getting international visitors again.

“Covid-19 will still be there, whether they come or not. Tourists don’t bring Covid-19, we still have the pandemic even without tourists,” she says.

Gabathuler says her business is suffering since she cannot secure a loan from a financial institution.

“I need to earn something. I cannot pay my employees and suppliers. We need to open our borders to generate an income,” she says.

Additionally, circumstances forced her to cut her 16 employees’ salaries and working hours.

Gabathuler says if her business shuts down, she does not see it reopening again.

She believes if tourists return to Namibia from next week, paying salaries and rent would not be a problem, although she calls for tourism establishments to be given relief by the government amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Damara Living Museum’s Hans //Noabeb welcomes the reopening of the country’s borders to tourists.

//Noabeb, who has 36 employees showcasing Damara culture near Twyfelfontein, says his establishment will adhere to the government’s regulations, and the museum, which had to close in March, has been prepared for foreign visitors.

Dorothea !Naibas, a manager at the /Gowati Hotel at Khorixas, says allowing tourists back into the country is a great gesture from the government.

“With tourists returning, we hope to get our full salaries again,” she says.

Benny Gaugaob (38), a curio seller and father of five children, says curio sellers have faced hardship due to the absence of tourists.

“Tourists are our only livelihood,” he says.

Ann Elizabeth van Tonder, manager of Haisra Tented Camp some 55 kilometres from Khorixas at Blaukrans, says tourists would be good for the economy.

“We want them to come back, we want our employees to come back too and earn a salary,” she says.

Haisra Tented Camp, a new establishment, was fully booked for the year, but when the pandemic struck, they were badly hit.

Ursula de Villiers, owner of Abba Guesthouse at Opuwo, says tourists are welcome, as long as they adhere to testing and quarantine regulations.

“One can die from hunger. One can die from Covid-19. If you don’t work, there will be no income, there will be no food,” she says.

Anna Ida /Uises, owner of Khaimaseni Craft Centre at Kamanjab, which has been operating since 2003, says the locals’ livelihoods depend on tourism.

“We thank our government for allowing tourists to return,” she says.

Namibia plans to reopen its borders to international travellers via the Hosea Kutako International Airport from 1 September.