Tourism hangs up welcome signs
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Durban - There is pent-up demand from upcountry visitors and KwaZulu-Natal could enjoy a good holiday season ahead.
That is according to Mikhail Peppas, deputy chairperson of Durban Central Tourism (DCT), as the country moves to lockdown level 1 on Monday and the tourism and hospitality industry gears up.
Yesterday, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said international travel to and from all African countries would be allowed, but warned South Africans that easing of lockdown did not mean the Covid-19 pandemic was over.
“We will rely on everybody to overcome this pandemic,” said Dlamini Zuma, adding that it must be understood that "we’re not out of the woods ... the pandemic is still on, the storm is still on".
She said visa applications at all embassies would now be opened, while travelling to and from countries where the infection rate was still high would be prohibited.
At uShaka Marine World’s trading centre, the Village Walk, on Thursday, Peppas told the media the tourism industry could see good growth if prices were not inflated to make up for losses suffered in the last six months.
“There’s pent-up demand and if prices are right, I estimate we’ll have a bumper season. We need to see some nice packages on offer to attract visitors. Durban’s beaches are looking great,” Peppas said.
Also at the event and speaking on the move to level 1, DCT chairperson, Pastor Dinkiza Williams, said: “Things are starting to happen and that brings with it a sense of hope.
“It’s been tough these last few months, with some businesses closing and others struggling to come back.
“But all is not lost, we are like an aeroplane coming in for landing, there are good things to look forward to ahead.”
DCT committee member, Sanabelle Ebrahim, who heads up route development, said the Green Prom Walk event, from the Green Hub to the harbour entrance, was being planned for April. It will start with a run at sunrise and the new promenade is expected to prove popular with visitors over the holiday season.
At uShaka Sea World, the dolphins were busy training and the spokesperson, Ann Kunz, said people were allowed in to watch training sessions.
“Every day the dolphins are training and there’s enough capacity in the dolphinarium for people to be well spaced out. We have lots of sanitisers and of course, masks have to be worn,” she said.
The Wet ’n Wild park is not yet operating, but the aquarium is open, as well as interactive activities such as the snorkelling pool, shark dive and ocean walk.
While the well-known Moyo’s restaurant has closed at the end of the south pier and in the uShaka precinct, there are still plenty of restaurants ready to welcome patrons.
uShaka retail marketing’s Merle Bateman said the Village Walk was designed to include not only shopping, but plenty of activities for the whole family, from Dangerous Reptiles to the “kiddies’ choo-choo”, two spas, a dive operator and 1st Zulu Safaris which offers tours around Durban and the province, as well as managing the gondolas in the canals.
The Independent on Saturday
Lead animal behaviourist Kelly de Klerk prepares for the summer tourism season and the opening after lockdown with 36-year-old Kelpie the dolphin, the first dolphin to be born at the old Seaworld. | Shelley Kjonstad ANA