Caoe Town - Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said the damage caused during the April floods in KwaZulu-Natal is estimated at more than R131 million.
In a reply to parliamentary questions from IFP MP Petros Sithole, Sisulu said the total estimated damage according to the latest available information was R131 445 000.
“KwaZulu-Natal has indicated that cases for immediate attention amount to about R89 595 000, while the balance can be undertaken over the medium term,” she said.
Sithole had asked whether her department has conducted a damage assessment on tourism in the province after the recent floods and whether her department has produced a sector-specific plan on how to rebuild the pillars that drive tourism.
The minister said site inspections were undertaken by officials from the national Department of Tourism, Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, Ezemvelo and KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board to assess affected sites that have relatively high impact on the value chain to drive local tourism development and recovery post the pandemic.
Site inspections were conducted in iSimangaliso Wetland Park, uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, Dakota Beach in Isipingo, Margate, Salt Rock Beach Front, Ballito, St Lucia, Mandela Capture Site, Howick Falls and Midmar Game Reserve, among others.
“The intention was to undertake assessments of sites that have relatively high impact on the value chain to drive local tourism development and recovery post the pandemic, thus having socio-economic bearing on affected neighbouring communities,” she said.
Sisulu noted damage was caused at beaches and to infrastructure, services and buildings.
“While King Shaka International Airport experienced water damage in parts of the terminal, there was no disturbance to operations and flights are operating as scheduled,” she said.
The minister said the overall impact was that tourism would not face a long-term negative impact.
“The overall assessment is that there has not been fundamental disruption of the province’s tourism offerings. Based on the assessment, the department has no separate initiatives for the floods but is working with the province to assist in recovery of the affected sites,” Sisulu said.
She also said relevant provincial and municipal departments and entities have commenced work in restoring or repairing infrastructure and services crucial to communities and businesses.
Sisulu also said the reconstruction of the infrastructure was being assessed by the relevant lead departments.
“As a department, we will contribute to the extent required where possible once the province has concluded associated processes regarding the nature of support. This is also to ensure that there is no duplication of resources.”
The minister stated regarding specific tourism infrastructure that the owners have during engagement indicated that some have insurance to cover some of the damage and mainly wanted speedy reconstruction of the affected bulk infrastructure.
“The department working with the provincial authorities will ascertain the extent to which tourism-specific support may be required and if necessary look into reprioritisation of resources.
“Again, this is based on the understanding that there should not be a duplication of resources,” she said.
When asked how the victims within the tourism sector affected by flooding would be assisted, Sisulu said product owners affected by flooding have mostly indicated that their insurance will pay for the repair of damaged tourism infrastructure.
“Given that there is not much damage and disruption to tourism establishments and infrastructure, businesses have continued to operate,” she said.
“To this end, operators are largely calling for restoration of bulk services. This is attended to through the efforts of the various mandate departments,” Sisulu added.