Durban - Tourism organisations in KwaZulu-Natal said they were ready to welcome visitors during September, which is marked as Tourism Month, and over the summer holidays despite concerns regarding Eskom’s Stage 6 load shedding being implemented indefinitely.
Brett Tungay, East Coast chairperson of the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa, said Tourism Month was an exciting time as they expected more domestic visitors.
“From September, which is Tourism Month, we see an increase in visitors, this leads to December and our summer holidays. So we are definitely looking forward to this and there are lots of events that are planned for Tourism Month, and this will be a welcome boost to the hospitality and tourism industry. We are still in recovery as a sector.”
Tungay said July and August was the period that they saw the most international visitors.
“We did see an increase in international visitors in July and August, but not as much as we would have liked. That’s why we are looking forward to the Tourism Month events. We know Tourism KZN has planned some events, and we are fully behind them.”
Tungay said there was concern about load shedding being escalated to Stage 6 or above by the power utility.
“Load shedding has a negative impact on the hospitality industry. To have Stage 6 load shedding is a major problem, as already members in our sector are spending large amounts of money on diesel for generators, inverters and solar panels.
“We also have to consider rural tourism establishments – when they have load shedding they might not have access to alternative energy supplies, and that will lead to reduced bookings and loss of income.”
Jeannie Sarno, the chairperson of uMhlanga Tourism, said Tourism Month needed to bring awareness to local businesses.
“My approach to September being Tourism Month is to bring as much awareness to the local businesses as possible. I feel it’s crucial that as the holidaymakers start to plan and make arrangements for the October holidays and Christmas holidays, they need to be made aware of what is actually available to them.”
Sarno added that they had engaged members and non-members.
“I’ve asked all our members of the uMhlanga Tourism Organisation, and I even invited non-members to send us all their specials and promotions so that we can help them get more exposure.”
Phelisa Mangcu, the CEO of South Coast Tourism and Investment Enterprise, said the warm weather was playing its part in the uptick of visitors.
“With the weather warming up we are noticing an increase in visitor numbers to the KZN South Coast, particularly as we are home to the highest number of Blue Flag beaches in the province. We are certainly ready for spring and the summer holidays.”
Mangcu added that KZN South Coast Tourism had also been affected by load shedding.
“While load shedding is impacting every household and business countrywide, the KZN South Coast is no exception – some tourism establishments have back-up power systems in place. But in addition to this, we’re a renowned outdoor and adventure destination, which means the fun can continue regardless.
“Alongside our beaches and dive sites, the ‘Golf Coast’ has 11 top courses to try, and our hinterland is home to a variety of agri-tourism experiences, including guided tours, hiking, biking, and more.”
KZN Tourism said its planned celebration for Tourism Month had been postponed due to the death of IFP founder and traditional prime minister to the Zulu monarch and nation, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
The event will take place later this month.