DURBAN - The festive season has traditionally been a boom time for Durban businesses, particularly the tourism and hospitality sectors, with the period characterised by increased economic and social activity.
This, unfortunately, coincides with an increase in criminal activity. At our recent combined Safety and Justice and Central Area Business Forum, the Durban Chamber partnered with eThekwini Municipality, who presented the 2019 Festive Season Management Committee (Fesmac) Plan, aimed at ensuring the safety of tourists and residents at key locations across the city through co-ordinated and consolidated effort to ensure that the City has a well-run and well-managed festive season.
The City’s Fesmac plan is in keeping with international best practice and was created in conjunction with Parks, Recreation and Culture; Durban Solid Waste (DSW); Durban Metropolitan Police Service; South African Police Service; eThekwini Transport Authority; and the Urban Improvement Project (UIP) company.
Durban’s festive season generally runs from the second week of December to the second week on January and it is expected to be as busy, if not busier, this year given the year-on-year growth.
eThekwini Municipality’s Economic Development and Planning Cluster advised that this festive season Durban can expect 780 000 overnight visitors and 250 000 day visitors with a projected direct spend in the municipality of around R 2.7 billion and a contribution to gross domestic product of R4.5bn, employing 8 700 people.
These figures are based on projections of previous visitor numbers and an inflationary increase in festive season spend from last year.
They give a clear indication of the significance of this period to the economy of the City and many related industries. The festive season represents an opportunity to boost the business, investment and tourism profile and reputation of eThekwini as well as lay the foundation for positive change that can address the socio-economic challenges that affect Durban such as crime and grime, ‘bad buildings’ and unemployment.
Law enforcement have already initiated the festive season plan which includes blue light coverage and visible policing at key focal points such as the Durban’s Golden Mile, home to Durban’snew Promenade, uShaka Marine World and Suncoast Casino and Entertainment Complex. eThekwini have also launched special provisions such as traffic management plans as well as the installation of new cameras which are capable of license and facial recognition and crowd detection.
The City has developed and launched various interventions to ensure the safety and security of all tourists, shoppers and residents throughout the festive period especially on peak holiday days. Of course, this requires extensive cooperation and coordination with businesses across the City as well as all citizens.
Business owners need to ensure that they have festive holiday plans in place especially if they operate in high activity commercial nodes such as the central business district, port and harbour, industrial and business zones as well as shopping malls and retail areas. All stakeholders, be they public sector, private sector as well as Non-Governmental Organisations and Non-Profit Organisations, who have a vested interest in eThekwini, need to work together in order to ensure that, as a City, we put our best foot forward during this festive season. Jointly, we need to identify gaps and then collaborate to take steps to ensure that those gaps are adequately addressed or resolved.
Palesa Phili is the chief executive of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry,