Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal economy is expected to bring in a whopping R1 billion over the Easter period, with an estimated 250 000 domestic and 60 000 international visitors anticipated.
Tourism KwaZulu-Natal projects 100 000 visitors for the Easter weekend alone.
The Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (Fedhasa) is also anticipating a “late surge of bookings’’ with hotels in the province already filling up. Restaurants and theatres, and retail are also recording positive numbers for the coming days. As in previous years Fedhasa observed a sudden spike in hotel bookings, while car rental reservations also increased.
Phindile Makwakwa, acting chief executive for Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, said: “Going on the rate of bookings already, KZN looks set for another bumper season. We're proud to be part of a vibrant, creative and important economic sector for this region.
“It is all encouraging that holidaymakers have chosen KZN for their next short break or holiday. Our tourism trade has displayed the quality service and variety of experiences which can be had here in the Zulu Kingdom.
The most popular sector in the tourism market are the province's beaches and adventure experiences. Hotels, particularly those along the coast, are enjoying high occupancies. The Berg and the Midlands also have good occupancy, statistics show.
Charles Preece, East Coast operational manager for Fedhasa said: “Holidaymakers tend to book very late. Our hotels are not at 100% full as yet, but we anticipate last minute bookings. The harsh economic times, rising inflation, petrol prices and toll fees are situations which inhibit travellers. But with the holidays fast approach, we anticipate a surge."
During April last year, more than 429 174 people visited KZN - 248 077 arrived by air and 181 097 by road. Hotel occupancy was 63,8%.
Since 2013, the average number of international arrivals in April was just over 62 000 visitors. In 2017 it was just over 67 000. Domestically, since 2013, the average number of trips undertaken to and in KZN was just over 392 000.
Sihle Zikalala, MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, says KwaZulu-Natal is fast becoming a “go to” destination for any global organisation wanting to stage a world class conference and event. The optimistic MEC says he expects the province to surpass its projected Easter weekend figures, saying that KwaZulu-Natal’s breath-taking tourism attractions and the friendly people made it a drawcard.
The April splurge comes hot on the heels of the bumper festive season which saw an increase of 15 percent in the number of domestic and international visitors who spent their holidays in the province.
“Our province continues to do well in terms of attracting domestic and international visitors. During the festive season, we had 1 265 000 visitors with about 140 000 of them being international visitors. They spent nearly R4 billion during their stay,” said Zikalala.The Independent on Saturday