Misanet.com / The Namibian, 29 November - The war in Afghanistan and tension in the Middle East have resulted in a positive spin-off for tourism in Namibia. The tourism industry at the coast and the port of Walvis Bay in particular will benefit with more passenger liners due to call at the harbour in the next year.
A shipping agent at Walvis Bay told The Namibian yesterday that the shipping routes of passenger liners have been diverted around the southern tip of Africa to avoid the Middle East since tensions rose following the terror attacks in the United States on September 11 and the subsequent war in Afghanistan.
Carlos Morgadinho of Ocean Liner Services said the number has doubled for the next year.
The first liner of the summer season, the Monterey, arrived at Walvis Bay yesterday morning, while the Coronia is due to arrive today. Another will call in December.
From January next year the schedule gets very busy. Six passenger liners are booked for January and two each during February, March, April and November. At present, the number for next year stands at 14.
Morgadinho said many people in the tourism industry are not taking the arrival of the passenger liners seriously.
Although the harbour was busy with traders displaying arts and craft items and taxi owners and tour guides selling transport and day trips and excursions, Morgadinho felt a lot more could be done.
- The passengers bring a lot of money with them, he said. "Among them could be businessmen looking for possible investments. The Walvis Bay community must learn to exploit this opportunity."
A cruise liner usually has between 400 and 500 passengers on board, while the larger ones carry more than 1,000 people. They normally stay for a day, but some of the liners next year will stay in the harbour for two nights.
The Monterey, which arrived yesterday, had 367 passengers and 280 crew members.
It is the Monterey's third call at Walvis Bay. The first time was in 1989 and again in April this year. The present cruise started in Genoa in the Mediterranean and her last port of call was St Helena. She will be in Cape Town on November 30 and Durban on December 5.
According to the MSC website a 14-day cruise on the Monterey costs anything between N$30 000 and N$50 000 per person depending on the type of cabin. The Monterey is 171,8 m long and has five decks.
Other facilities and services include two lounges with live bands, four bars, a boutique, disco, casino, cinema, florist, gym, jogging track, two swimming pools and jacuzzis and a photographer among others.
The shipping agent said due to stricter security measures being enforced no members of the public will be allowed on board the ship while she is in the harbour.
- That is out of the question, he said.
By Maggi Barnard, The Namibian