Namibia to resume international tourism from 1 September

The announcement came despite a recent spike in coronavirus cases, which have almost tripled to over 6,000 this month.

FILE: Elephants at Halali in the Etosha National Park in Namibia. Picture: AFP

WINDHOEK - Namibia's government said Tuesday the country would reopen to foreign visitors from 1 September to try and salvage thousands of jobs in tourism, badly hit by coronavirus travel bans.

The announcement came despite a recent spike in coronavirus cases, which have almost tripled to over 6,000 this month.

Recorded deaths have risen from 11 to 57 since 1 August.

"As from 1 September 2020, Namibia re-opens the Hosea Kutako International Airport to international tourists," Environment Minister Pohamba Shifeta announced on Tuesday.

"This is a targeted initiative for leisure travellers that will be reviewed bi-weekly and amended as necessary."

Shifeta said all incoming tourists would be required to test negative for coronavirus no more than 72 hours before travelling.

They will then have to spend a minimum of seven days at their first destination.

Namibia is a sparsely populated southwest African country known for its wildlife and spectacular coastal desert. Tourism contributes around 10% to the country's GDP.

Around 1.6 million foreigners holidayed in Namibia last year, according to government figures.

The environment ministry has said that resuming international tourism ahead of the usual peak season - from September to December - could save up to 120,000 jobs.

Borders were sealed on 28 March as part of early efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Namibians are still banned from travelling between towns - a restriction that will be waived for tourists.