KZN ready to make waves after Covid lockdown
Durban - Getting into gear for the upcoming holiday season.
That is the KwaZulu-Natal tourism and hospitality industry, which desperately needs to see Covid-19 regulations eased as operators hope to bounce back to business after months of lockdown.
With President Cyril Ramaphosa saying further easing of lockdown restrictions can be expected in the next week and national Health Minister Zweli Mkhize hinting at a move to level 1 restrictions, MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Nomusa Dube-Ncube confirmed yesterday that she was scheduled to visit Margate today.
“I will be inspecting the renovation of Margate Airport as part of our state of readiness for the lifting of restrictions on international travel. I will also visit the KwaXolo Caves on the South Coast as we seek to stimulate rural tourism,” said Dube-Ncube, adding that since inter-provincial borders were opened, the province “has been inundated with bookings from across the country”.
The airport has received a R10 million injection for renovations, which forms part of the department’s improvement plans for small airports to attract an easy flow of visitors around the province, as well as for future investment possibilities.
Dube-Ncube added that this week Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal had hosted a virtual Online Trade Mission involving KZN based-entrepreneurs and 140 companies from the UK which had expressed a lot of interest in visiting the province, particularly as there is now a direct flight from King Shaka International Airport. The session was in partnership with the Durban Chamber, Business Durham and the North East England Chamber of Commerce .
“This session was very timely considering the fact that September is both Heritage and Tourism Month in South Africa. KZN’s tourist attractions are in pristine shape, despite the challenges brought about by Covid-19. Regarding the possibility of changes in lockdown, we welcome any announcement from national government,” said the MEC.
Restrictions still in place and which could be lifted include: the opening of the borders and resumption of international travel, the lifting of the 10pm curfew, liquor sales being lifted over the weekend and a possible increase in the number of people allowed at religious gatherings, as well as numbers allowed at theatres, concerts, live performances and cinemas.
Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (Fedhasa) chief executive officer, Lee Zama, said the country’s borders needed to be opened to allow international tourists to come to SA.
“We are sitting at a 20 to 30% occupancy rate at the moment and don’t expect any fireworks unless the government opens the international borders. The curfew is also totally unnecessary,” she said, adding that on the local front, finances were tight for the ordinary South African.
“With the GDP figures released this week, South Africans will not be splashing out on holidays this year,” she added.
Colin Naidoo, local spokesman for the Airports Company of SA (Acsa), said: “We will take a cue from the government in terms of level 1 restrictions, in terms of opening up borders”, adding that it would be up to individual airlines to decide when they would resume flights once the borders reopened.
Foreign airlines that flew to and from King Shaka International Airport before lockdown were Emirates, Qatar Airways, Air Mauritius, British Airways, Turkish Airlines and the Zambian carrier, ProFlight, he said.
And swimming off Durban’s beaches is back on the cards for the beginning of next month, with lifeguards getting back into the water on Monday for swimming fitness.
In the meantime, they have had fitness training sessions on the sand, supervisor for aquatic safety in central eThekwini, Nathi Hlongwa told the Independent on Saturday yesterday.
“During level 5 and level 4 we encouraged them to do their own training at home. When the promenade and roads opened, we encouraged running. Now they’re doing team training as well as gym.”
He was confident lifeguards would be swimming fit in two weeks’ time.
Shark nets are also being installed by the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board.
Head of the Parks, Recreation and Culture Unit, Thembinkosi Ngcobo, said reopening of facilities would be done in a phased approach under stringent restrictions.
“Wearing a mask and a temperature check is compulsory,” he said.
Of the City’s 52 swimming pools, 19 are being reopened to the public as they have met all the Covid-19 requirements.
The remainder of the pools are going through repairs and maintenance, he added.
The Independent on Saturday