Namibia is reopening to foreign visitors on Sept. 1.
"As from Sept. 1, Namibia reopens the Hosea Kutako International Airport to international tourists," environment minister Pohamba Shifeta said. "This is a targeted initiative for leisure travelers that will be reviewed biweekly and amended as necessary."
Tour operators have welcomed the news that Namibia is reopening, saying they are hoping it will set a precedent for other countries in the region. Dave van Smeerdijk, co-founder and director of sales and marketing for Natural Selection, said: "This is a very exciting first step in the opening up of the Southern African safari industry. Namibia joins Zambia and Zimbabwe in being one of the first countries in the region to welcome international tourists. We hope this will set a precedent for other countries in the region to follow."
The reopening of the sector is subject to very strict guidelines and protocols. All travelers must present a negative Covid test result not older than 72 hours before their departure for Namibia.
Another guideline is that travelers will be required to stay for seven days at their first tourist facility of booking, which must be registered with the Namibia Tourism Board and certified by the Ministry of Health and Social Services. The tourists must proceed directly from the airport to their first accommodation.
Although this is not ideal, van Smeerdijk said he understands the need for responsible protocols. He said: "The initial seven days in one location is not how people would traditionally travel in Namibia. There are some great places to enjoy a longer stay while this protocol is in place, but we look forward to seeing freer movement for foreign tourists [in the near future]."
Shifeta explained that although efforts have been made to stimulate domestic tourism during the Covid-19 state of emergency, the survival and regrowth of the tourism sector depends mainly on the ability to attract international tourists. He said: "The implementation protocols are designed to help us ensure that international tourists are still able to visit Namibia without compromising the public health of neither Namibians nor their own health."