DURBAN - MINISTER of Tourism Lindiwe Sisulu says support will be provided to the tourism industry in the province after the floods that led to losses over the long Easter weekend due to cancellations.
The minister was addressing the media in Durban at the weekend.
KwaZulu-Natal’s Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), MEC Ravi Pillay said that assisting the tourism industry was a priority for the government.
Sisulu said KZN had projected 366 503 arrivals and a tourism spend of R1.2 billion over the Easter period, but the estimated number of visitors was 236 630 with revenue of R743 million.
“Overall hotel accommodation occupancy for KZN was 54.4% over the Easter period.”
She added that in eThekwini, on average, 16% of bookings were cancelled which translates to a loss in projected visitors of 20% or about 30 000 visitors.
“This means a direct spend loss of R30 million is projected, with a R74 million GDP loss and 155 temporary job losses.”
Tourism KZN was working closely with Durban Tourism to ascertain the extent of the damage suffered by tourism businesses, she said.
“Adventure Valley near Ballito has bookings cancelled for the next month due to road and bridge damage. Mnini Dam Resort is badly damaged by the floods.”
Sisulu said that in the Ilembe district, at Rain Farm Game Lodge, the bridge to the property washed away and therefore there was no access to the farm.
In Ugu District Municipality between Port Shepstone and Ramsgate, ten B&Bs on the tourism network received cancellations, she added.
Sisulu said that in the Drakensberg, specifically in the central Berg, potholes were the main issue.
Plans would be put in place to assist with rebuilding the tourism sector in KZN, said the minister.
“We are going to restructure our budget to ensure we support the industry that has been affected by the disaster. However, South Africa and KZN are open for business and we cannot wait to get tourists back in numbers.”
EDTEA MEC Pillay said that the department is pleased with the clean-up efforts along the beaches after the floods.
“Tourism in KwaZulu-Natal has taken a knock following the recent floods, however, we are pleased with the efforts to clean up beaches and we look forward to restoring tourism and
allowing tourists on the beaches.”
Pillay said that he is also pleased to note that the N2 north and south is open with detours in place.
“We want to restore our tourism calendar and we want to boost tourism ahead of the June/July vacation period.
“We also have the Durban July horse racing event coming up and the Comrades Marathon coming up later in the year.”
Pillay added that as part of economic development in terms of the department’s mandate, it plans to meet companies and businesses that were affected by the floods.
“We will be having engagements with businesses and all relevant stakeholders about how we can assist and move forward following the floods. We also want to address the issue of rebuilding with climate resilient infrastructure.”