Despite the negative impacts stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic, domestic tourism has been reported to have picked up with more locals visiting the Etosha National Park compared to international tourists.
Etosha is one of the largest national parks in Africa, one of the oldest, and is considered as Namibia’s flagship tourist destination.
However, local tourism has been hard hit by the pandemic, which was compounded by job losses and loss of income.
During September, Namibia opened its borders via Hosea Kutako International and Walvis Bay airports as well as its three land borders for leisure travel.
The Katima Mulilo, Ariamsvlei, and Noordoewer border posts, as well as the Walvis Bay harbour, are also open subject to applicable health regulations.
In an interview with Etosha National Park deputy director Martin Kasoana, he said domestic tourism has picked up since the Covid-19 state of the emergency lapsed and borders opened.
“During the lockdown, Etosha was also on lockdown. But when the situation changed, we saw a lot of improvement in tourists coming in. The tourists coming in are mostly local tourists. We still have challenges with international tourists. This means we have now started appreciating our local tourism,” Kasoana said.
However, he said, the peak is only during weekends as many Namibians work during the week.
He attributed the increase by local tourists to Etosha as a result of reduced discounted accommodation prices by Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR).
Etosha’s waterholes are famous among international tourists for spectacular game viewing and at the Okaukuejo waterhole at night it is possible to see black rhino, lions and elephants. Other tourist attractions include game viewing, birdwatching and photography.
Famous resorts in the park are Okaukuejo, Halali, Namutoni, Dolomite and Onkoshi. On challenges, he said, they did not record any poaching incidence.
“You never sleep. You always keep at the back of your mind that they are there trying. We can say we’re safe for now, but I can’t say for how long,” Kasoana stated.
Etosha National Park is home to 114 large and small mammal species, more than 400 recorded bird species, scores of reptiles, and even a fish species.
Etosha has a proud record of black rhino conservation, and white rhinos were recently re-introduced.
The park has also played a major role in the recovery of the endemic black-faced impala.