Durban’s beachfront, in line with the city’s marketing strategy of being the “Playground of Africa”, received a huge boost yesterday when the eThekwini Municipality announced it was in the process of appointing a beachfront manager.
The move has been warmly welcomed by the tourism and hospitality industry.
City spokeswoman Tozi Mthethwa said internal processes were being finalised prior to the position being advertised.
The beachfront currently falls under a number of different departments – for example, parks and recreation, waste and sanitation, and health and safety.
Mthethwa said the city manager had called for “integrated management of the beaches”, and the new beachfront manager would be responsible for “strategic direction in the integration of operations for beaches from Umgababa in the south to Westbrook in the north”.
She said a priority would be the categorisation of beach nodes into “well-served, under-served and un-served nodes”.
This would allow gaps in operations to be identified.
With regard to the Durban beachfront, Mthethwa said: “It remains a critical node for our tourism sector, and much effort will be put into growing partnerships with stakeholders and improving the beach operations and management.”
She also highlighted the establishment of a beach management committee, which “may include technical, security and operational sub-committees whose work will be all year round, as opposed to the festive season management committee, which convenes only during the festive season”.
Logie Naidoo, the Speaker of the eThekwini Municipality, said last night that the appointment was “preparing the ground” for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“We are also looking at using the Rachel Finlayson Pool for the 2022 swimming competition, which will have the Indian Ocean as a backdrop.”
He added the appointment would also fit in with the long-term plan to extend the promenade to Virginia and uMhlanga.
“After uShaka Marine World, our beach is the second-biggest attraction in the city. We have achieved so much with the promenade and believe the beachfront is a tourism asset, which has a diversity of people you won’t find anywhere else in the world.”
He said the city’s Malaysian partners were also keen to commence with further development at the Point Waterfront this year.
The hospitality industry has given the announcement a big thumbs up.
Mike Jackson, KZN director of operations for the Tsogo Sun Group of Hotels, described it as “a very significant step”. Tsogo Sun owns the majority of the big hotels along the beachfront. “It has always been a case of dealing with different departments and heads and now we are going to have a manager who we can sit down with and discuss our industries.
Fedhasa East Coast operations director, Charles Preece, described the beachfront as a “critical zone for our members”.
General manager of the Protea Edward Hotel, Werner Gere, said: “It’s going to make it much easier, it’s a no-brainer.”