This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Overview

Namibia has a unique mix of wildlife, spectacular scenery, and diverse cultures. Natural attractions include the Namib Desert, which is the oldest desert in the world, the Fish River Canyon, which is the second largest canyon after the Grand Canyon, the world-famous sand dunes at Sossusvlei, the Skeleton Coast with its extraordinary landscapes, and the popular Etosha National Park, one of the largest game reserves in Africa.  Coupled with its natural beauty, Namibia’s good road infrastructure and lower levels of crime than most of its neighboring countries makes it an ideal destination for tourists. 

In a 2016 report, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) estimated that tourism contributed approximately 14.9% of GDP in Namibia.  The Namibia Statistical Agency (NSA) does not break out tourism as a separate category, so the WTTC GDP estimate is inferred from the compilation of data from related industries – hospitality, transportation, etc.  The WTTC report forecasted growth of 7.9% per annum until 2023. 
Excluding neighboring African countries, the United States represents Namibia’s third largest tourist market; only Germany and the UK were larger, followed by France and Netherlands.   Many American tourists visit as part of package tours.  American game hunters are a growing and important segment for Namibian tourism operators. 

Despite steady growth in the Namibian tourism sector since independence in 1990, it has underperformed relative to regional competitors and it remains especially susceptible to seasonal fluctuations and the vagaries of the South African Rand. Diversification of source markets for tourists is a key element to increasing tourist arrivals and reducing seasonal fluctuations. 
Leading Sub-Sectors
  • Hospitality, restaurant, hotel management and training.
  • Tour packaging services especially in niche segments. 
  • Information technology solutions for the hospitality industry.
  • Specialized equipment for remote (off-grid) lodging

Opportunities

Firms interested in sending tourists to Namibia should seek partnering opportunities with local operators.  Firms may wish to focus on specific niches.  Niche tourism opportunities include:
  • Wildlife safaris – Etosha National Park and other parks offer world class safaris with upscale lodging both inside and near the parks. 
  • Hunting tours – Namibia has a well developed game and trophy hunting sector.
  • Cultural / Educational tours – Namibia is an excellent location for tourists interested in learning about the cultural anthropology of Southern Africa. Tours are available for people interested in learning more about the San, Herero, Himba, Oshiwambo, Nama, Damara, and other Namibian ethnic groups.  Some tourists look for educational experiences and want to learn about Namibia’s unique climate and geography (including its two world famous deserts, the Kalahari and Namib).
  • Adventure tours – Many travelers enjoy the unique adventure opportunities (sand boarding, kite surfing, sky diving, quad biking, mountain biking, hiking, camping etc.) which Namibia offers.  Also, increasingly there are endurance race events (running, biking, and mixed sports) hosted in Namibia.
  • Ecotourism – Increasingly, tourists want to stay at destinations that have minimum impact on (or blend in with the) the environment. Lodging and tour companies are increasingly catering to this market.
Firms interested in developing partnerships should consider attending the annual Namibia Tourism Expo, held in May/June of each year.
Operators (tour/transport companies, hotels and restaurants) will increasingly need information technology solutions that will allow them to better control costs and understand their customers’ demands.  While there are some larger tour operators and lodging companies providing state of the art information technology solutions, the Namibian tourism market is still highly fragmented with many small operators.  Most small operators only have a limited Internet presence. Companies that can provide cost effective internet-based marketing and booking solutions could find willing customers in Namibia.

Growth in the tourism sector is also fueling construction and the development of new lodging in both urban and remote areas.  Partnering for construction jobs might be a possibility for U.S. firms, but it will likely be difficult for U.S. firms to win construction contracts as there are many qualified local and South African firms.  Chinese construction firms have also penetrated the Namibian construction market in recent years.  There are opportunities for firms that can provide specialized eco-friendly equipment and supplies – water and sanitation, energy, hygiene, etc. – for new lodges in remote areas.  Existing lodges that are expanding or rehabilitating may also be looking for these types of equipment.

Web Resources

  • Namibia Tourism Board
http://www.namibiatourism.com.na/
 
  • Namibia Tourism Expo
http://nte.nmh.com.na/
 
  • Hospitality Association of Namibia
http://www.hannamibia.com/
 
  • Federation of Namibia Tourism Associations (FENATA)
http://www.fenata.org
 
  • Ministry of Environment and Tourism
http://www.met.gov.na
 

 

Prepared by the International Trade Administration. With its network of more than 100 offices across the United States and in more than 75 markets, the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



Namibia Food and Beverage Trade Development and Promotion