The Durban July might be on, but eThekwini's tills will not ring this year
Billions of rand have already been lost since the start of the national lockdown and millions more will be lost during Durban’s most loved and attended horse-racing event.
Charles Preece, Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (Fedhasa) East Coast operational manager, said: “For the July, it’s a full weekend for many of the hotels in Durban. So we’re talking millions. I wouldn’t be able to quantify it but plenty of money is being lost. And to the greater economy as well, the restaurants, everyone is suffering.”
He said the hospitality industry had lost a lot already and, comparatively speaking, it was a drop in the ocean because hotels have been closed for months and billions had been lost.
“It’s hard to be optimistic at this stage. The very least we need is for the government to reinstate domestic leisure travel,” said Preece.
According to eThekwini Municipality, around 45 000 visitors arrived in Durban for the 2019 VDJ. The event also created more than 400 jobs. Before the VDJ, hotels already had an 80% capacity in the greater Durban area.
Looking beyond the VDJ, the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) said there was a daily R748 million loss of tourism expenditure and the further permanent loss of jobs.
The latest regulations regarding the hospitality industry do not allow people to use hotels for leisure purposes.
The TBCSA presented a comprehensive tourism recovery plan to the portfolio committee on tourism in June. The plan was based on a phased approach, starting with domestic travel and then the opening of international inbound travel by at least September, in order to take advantage of the inbound summer high season which runs from September to April and represents 60% of South Africa’s international tourism annual revenue.
“We believe that the protocols we developed - which are already being used for business and essential travel and accommodation - are adequate for leisure travellers as well. Our protocols are as stringent as other sectors that are already operational such as mining, beauty and care, transport, retail, and many more,” said TBCSA chief executive Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa.
Meanwhile, Tourism KZN was looking ahead. It has created a Tourism Recovery Marketing Strategy to bring back some of the lost prospects in time for the summer season. On social media Tourism KZN reassured travellers that their favourite places were ready to welcome them back.