By Le Roux van Schalkwyk
Gone are the days of masses of tourists rubbing shoulders to see the Colosseum in Rome or bumping into each other while exploring La Rambla in Barcelona. The new normal will be destinations where social distancing is easy and where a sense of safety is paramount because let’s face it, no one wants to be on holiday while simultaneously stressed about well-being.
Having reached the halfway point of 2020, the entire world has its collective fingers crossed that the second half of the year will be considerably better than the first. It seems that each month has brought a new challenge, with the dark cloud of COVID-19 being the only constant. The only certainty in a year brimming with uncertainties. As I’m writing this, Namibia is one of few countries globally with less than 50 COVID cases, mostly thanks to our government’s progressive approach and rapid response to tackling the crisis.
With certain countries slowly opening their borders again and more planning to follow suit later, they are hoping to resuscitate a tourism industry that has been ravaged by the unprecedented state the planet has found itself in. It will be interesting to see how travel and tourism will change in a post-COVID world. Whereas before travellers chose destinations according to affordability etc. tons of additional factors are sure to come into play when people plan their next trip abroad. COVID-safe destinations will definitely be one of the main considerations – this is where Namibia has (and always had) one of the biggest competitive advantages: space. Loads of space!
With a population of around 2.5 million people (equivalent to 0.03% of the total world population), Namibia is well-known for being one of the least densely populated countries. Its population density is just under three people per square kilometre, second only to Mongolia. To put that in perspective, the earth’s population density is currently 50 people sharing each square kilometre. In comparison, Hong Kong has one of the world’s highest population densities at 7140 people/km2, in Europe a country like Germany has 240 people/km2, while neighbouring South Africa is on par with the world’s average at 49 people/km2.
Namibians are also not spread out equally as 40% of the inhabitants can be found in the extreme north-central area along the border with Angola. Furthermore, just over 50% of the country’s total population lives in urban centres. This means that out of a total area of 824,292km2 and a population localised to certain centres, there is ample space for social distancing.
Space is by no means the only selling card of Namibia. If you are reading this you have without a doubt seen the natural wonders and beautiful scenery the country has to offer. Space has and is one of the most valuable commodities that enhances any visit. What makes travellers venture deep into the Namib, the oldest desert in the world, is that sense of place. The experience of having an unbroken 360-degree view of some of the most picturesque landscapes on this earth has healing power like no other, sorely needed in these times we live in.
Couch planning your next trip for when travelling is allowed again? Skip the crowds and rather opt for the ample expanses, endless vistas, clear blue skies and healthy fresh air of Namibia. We can’t wait to welcome you when the time is right to travel again.
World Travel & Tourism Council