The impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic has been felt across the world and in Namibia. The hospitality and tourism sector, in particular, has been the hardest hit.
As a consequence, the greater part of 2020 has seen a great decline in travel and leisure activities.
Being a travel and lifestyle blogger/influencer myself, I have witnessed first-hand the drastic impact of the pandemic, and while travel specials and other incentives have been put in place to attract domestic travelers, it has not garnered enough numbers for the tourism sector to fully recover.
I sound a little serious in today’s column, hey? It’s really me, though, I promise.
Where were we? Ah, yes. The tourism sector.
Tourism is a very important sector in Namibia. Not only is it one of the largest contributors to the country’s gross domestic product, it also generates a large number of jobs, which, for the most part, have been lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
If you have travelled domestically in the past couple of months, you would likely have noticed one, if not all, of the below:
1. Roads to some of Namibia’s most famous tourist destinations are fairly empty.
2. Lodges are understaffed (staff now rotate as an attempt to salvage jobs).
3. Guests are not filling up lodges (tap into why?)
In essence, what this means is that not enough people are travelling to start the recovery of the tourism sector.
I personally believe there are two reasons for this.
1. Because tourism was so largely built on solely attracting foreign travellers, the majority of locals do not know about lodges, their existence, the rates, activities and so forth.
2. We, as a country, also generally do not have a travel culture. (I am, in a sense, also linking this to the first point because it is difficult to attach value to something that was out of reach – to begin with).
How do we redirect this focus? What are some of the ways through which we can attract and appeal to more Namibian travellers?
I have said this many times - and I will continue to say the price of travel in Namibia can feel very exclusionary. An average Namibian does not have the means to spend N$10 000 on a weekend getaway; it just does not make financial sense in a country where an average person does not even earn that much as a monthly income.
We need to give locals more incentives to explore the country. Loyalty cards/programmes may be a start and are definitely thinning the gap; it is, however, not sufficient.
Alternative to lodging, camping and glamping facilities are often not as well maintained as the luxury options. Campers do not generally have access to lodge amenities like swimming pools. Reasons? I cannot think of any that would be valid.
The second point, which is what I would really like to dive into, is the collaboration between the tourism sector and Namibian content creators and brand influencers to boost local numbers.
Let us start with some definitions, yeah?
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience with the objective of driving profitable customer action, whereas a content creator is a person responsible for the ideation and creation of said content.
Influencer marketing is quite new in Namibia; many brands have not caught on yet. Some do not feel well informed about it, some do not trust it and still prefer to use traditional media and others simply do not care for it.
The gag, though, is that young people spend a majority of their time on their phones, while traditional media may reach a certain demographic. The ones who largely participate in economic activity are on their phones at least five hours per day.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Clubhouse – just to name a few.
Social media influencers have large audiences who not only enjoy their content but also trust it. This trust is what the tourism sector has large potential to benefit from.
I will use myself as an example. Every time I travel and share some content, with about 1 1000 Instagram followers, I get at least 100 Direct Messages. EVERY. SINGLE TIME.
These DMs could be of questions ranging from the location of the destination, the condition of roads to a said destination, cost of the getaway, etc.
The 100 DMs are in essence your potential clients.
Namibia has a number of travel content creators, such as, just to name a few, the Twinfluencers, who have collaborated with a number of notable brands – some even beyond Namibian borders; Roxy Polo, who has already worked with one of Namibia’s biggest tourism companies, Gondwana -and the new kid on the block, the Traveller Queen, whose YouTube channel went viral for being authentic and relatable.
So, let’s get on it; send the proposals and let local creators be part of making your brand more visible. It is not going to happen overnight but it is definitely the start we need.
Do not hesitate to contact me should you need more information.
Youtube Ndapanda Haininga