THE FNB/FENATA Travel Index, the measure of tourism activity in the country, rose by 2,7% in the fourth quarter of last year compared to the previous quarter and 11,2% from the same period in 2012.
Namene Kalili, Manager of Research at FNB Namibia said in a report released yesterday that the travel index closed off the fourth quarter on a strong note due to favourable exchange rates for foreign tourists, higher occupancy rates, stable domestic prices and stronger load factors on international flights.
“The local currency lost ground against the euro and the US dollar and thus travel to Namibia was nine percent cheaper for European tourists and six percent cheaper for American tourists based on exchange rate fluctuations. Furthermore, prices for accommodation contracted in local currency terms by 2,2%. The load factor on international flights increased by 10 percent on account of fewer international flights and hence tourists flew to Namibia more efficiently. All these factors improved Namibia’s cost competitiveness during the fourth quarter and hence the sectors GDP contribution should increase accordingly,” says Kalili.
Positive revenue outturn was widespread, with tented lodges, hotels, tour operators, activity operators, guest houses and bed and breakfast establishments being the most optimistic. Although international arrivals declined over the fourth quarter, there was an increase in occupancy rates measured at the local establishments.
The report attributed this to high numbers of local tourists, who accounted for 45% of the total bed nights. Operators expect a 10% increase in tourist number during the first quarter of 2014.
Employment levels improved during the quarter and are projected to grow further in the first quarter of this year particularly in the air charter, tented lodges and hotels sectors.
In terms of capital expenditure, Kalili said this increased during the fourth quarter, with 35% of the respondents reporting increased capital expenditure levels, particularly in the guest farm, lodge and tented lodge sectors. Capital expenditure is expected to increase by four percent in the first quarter with guest farms, guest houses and tented lodge sectors leading the investment curve.