EThekwini mayor Kaunda says Durban tourism numbers are up

eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda speaking at a media briefing yesterday said Durban’s tourism industry was booming. Picture: Supplied

eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda speaking at a media briefing yesterday said Durban’s tourism industry was booming. Picture: Supplied

Published Dec 29, 2023


EThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda says the tourism industry is booming in Durban, with hotel occupancy at 75% compared with 72% last year.

The mayor said there were 112 101 visitors in Durban over the December 16 long weekend, and the projected total number of visitors for the festive season would be close to 800 000.

Kaunda said statistics for the Day of Reconciliation weekend from December 14 to 17 showed of the 112 101 visitors in the city, 72 866 were overnight visitors and 39 235 were day visitors.

“The direct spend was R211 million, with over 1 000 direct employment opportunities created.”

Kaunda added that projections for the Christmas Day extended weekend from December 22 to 26 also indicated a positive impact on local tourism.

“This demonstrates that our tourism sector is returning to pre-Covid-19 growth levels and we remain a preferred holiday destination for holidaymakers.”

Kaunda added that they expect a spend of more than R1.8 billion for this year’s festive season.

“This is an increase compared to over R1.6bn being spent in the previous festive season. There were also 792 410 visitors expected this festive season compared to 683 653 visitors during the 2022/2023 festive season. The accommodation industry has indicated occupancy rates of 64% at non-hotels and between 72% to 78% at hotels.”

Slightly more job opportunities were also expected to be created.

Speaking on beach water quality, which has been a significant concern, Kaunda said beaches were safe to use.

“We are the only city in the country that conducts water quality tests twice a week. So we want to reassure the public and visitors that their safety when swimming at the beaches is guaranteed regarding the quality of water.”

Kaunda added that since the festive season started, there have been no incidents of drowning reported on Durban beaches.

“Our lifeguards, pool attendants and law enforcement authorities will continue to be hard at work to ensure the safety and well-being of beachgoers. Our law enforcement officers also continue to maintain high visibility on the road and at tourism sites.”

Brett Tungay, Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa East Coast chairperson, said there has been an improvement in figures compared with the same time last year.

“However, we must be clear we are not yet back at pre-Covid-19 levels. We really only got busy from December 22, which is a short period to the end of the festive season. We normally need about 15 busy days to have a good season.”

Tungay added that the figures are good despite the challenges with the beach water quality.

“There were concerns, so numbers are better than expected. Let’s hope the municipality gets on top of the wastewater situation and hopefully figures will improve even more.”

Jeannie Sarno, the chairperson of uMhlanga Tourism, said in terms of uMhlanga, with Christmas being the start of the peak period and New Year’s Day marking the end, numbers so far have not been favourable.

“Establishments have battled to get a full house due to the erratic opening and closing of beaches due to the E coli levels most of the time. We’re optimistic for 2024 and a good campaign system from Durban Tourism to assist the industry.”