Durban - The tourism industry took another blow this weekend, with visitors cancelling Easter weekend holidays after the devastating floods this week left many areas without water or power.
But the hit was not as bad as expected, said the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (Fedhasa).
National Fedhasa chair Rosemary Anderson said on Thursday night that cancelled accommodation was rapidly being filled with new bookings for Easter specials.
“KwaZulu-Natal hotels, lodges and guest houses are still expecting a reasonable Easter weekend despite the deadly flood that swept parts of the province earlier this week. The flooding has not negatively affected the North Coast, Drakensberg, Midlands, Battlefields or game reserves,” said Anderson, adding that it was primarily the South Coast and Durban that had been affected.
“Fortunately, bookings for the upcoming long weekend had not been too negatively impacted, with no major cancellations and the rooms that were cancelled have quickly been snapped up with new bookings ‒ capitalising on all the Easter Specials out there,” she said.
Anderson said infrastructure such as poorly maintained stormwater systems had contributed to the damage.
“A number of hotels are reporting that the factor that caused the flooding was storm water drains being blocked in the vicinity they were located.
“This unfortunate chain of events has put the spotlight on the need for better local governance in maintaining basic municipal services such as the maintenance of stormwater systems.
“We can’t control heavy rains, but we can ensure that the stormwater drainage is in optimal working order to be able to cope as well as possible with heavy rains,” said Anderson.
Durban Tourism said the city would be negatively impacted with cancellations for the long weekend, with a forecast of a R30 million loss in spend.
eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the impact of the torrential rains and flooding, along with rain forecast over the weekend, would hinder the arrival of visitors to Durban with an estimated loss of 30 000 visitors.
“The floods have had an impact on the tourism sector as some areas are not accessible and the weather continued to be poor. Durban tourism will bounce back by ensuring that marketing and promotion of Durban post the current situation continues.
“eThekwini will overcome and be open for business despite these trying times,” said Mayisela.
Yesterday, there was traffic congestion and lengthy delays on major freeways in KwaZulu-Natal yesterday because of flood-damaged roads.
The N3 Toll Concession reported close to 1 000 vehicles heading south through Mooi River Toll Plaza by mid-morning yesterday, while just over 800 vehicles were recorded travelling north.
The Independent on Saturday