KZN tourism sector hoping relaxed Covid-19 regulations brings back glory days
Durban - Tourism associations and entities in KwaZulu-Natal are on an all-out drive to rebuild the region’s tourism sector that was devastated by the Covid-19 lockdown regulations.
Now, in the wake of the relaxed Covid-19 regulations, the industry is betting on a boom in the travel sector.
Leading the aggressive drive to bring tourism to its former glory. Tourism KZN, supported by Ilembe Enterprise, the body responsible for development on the North Coast this week reignited its campaign to restore the region’s tourism industry to its former glory and then grow it even further.
The entity hosted television hosts and actors Siv Ngesi and Jonathan Boynton-Lee to the North Coast to enjoy the tourism offerings such as microlighting, water and adventure sports. Also on showcase how the hotels were operating under Covid regulations.
The pandemic and subsequent restrictions have hit the hospitality industry hard over the months and there have been spiralling losses in income, jobs and businesses.
CEO of the Ilembe Enterprise Cheryl Peters said: “The easing of the lockdown regulations was a positive welcome for us and we are planning to take full advantage of this”.
Peters, also welcomed the lifting of the alcohol ban which saw the reopening of the newly opened winery, Seventeen 87 (a project of the enterprise) at Sugar Rush Park in Ballito, started months ago and forced to close during lockdown. It employs almost 40 people.
“We are hopeful that more tourists coming to the area to enjoy the oceans and adventure sports can pop in for a wine tasting.
“People want to travel again as they have been confined to their homes for months on end. Some have had to cut their holidays short in the past weeks and are now eager to travel with the restrictions being eased. We want to target potential tourists to consider KZN when they finally book their holidays.”
Peters was confident that the visitors will return to the North Coast again this Easter.
The North Coast usually receives in the region of just over a million tourists per annum, and around 80 000 over the Easter holiday period.
“We are hoping for at least 80% occupancy this year. We have worked closely with TKZN using various marketing strategies to ensure that this happen, the key one for us being the #seeyousoon campaign. It was through these efforts that we managed to see higher occupancy levels between September and November 2020 in comparison to the same period in 2019.
“In addition, we also embarked on a #supportlocal campaign, encouraging locals who couldn’t take their usual destination holidays to rather explore their own backyards and support local,” she said.
Many tourism leaders including the Association of the South African Travel Agent (ASATA), the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (FEDHASA), Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGSA), Tourism Hospitality and Sport Education and Training Authority (THETA) and South African Tourism (SAT) are championing travel at this time.
Brett Tungay, regional chairperson of the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa for the East Coast (FEDHASA), said the move by TKZN to start an aggressive campaign was welcomed and much needed.
“It is critical for us to promote the domestic market as international and business travel is at its lowest.
“Already, we have seen changes in sales when liquor restrictions were eased. We are certain that the travel between provinces may increase, but equally we have found since the President’s announcement, that people are doing shorter trips closer to their homes,” he said.
Chief Executive Officer of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, predicted that businesses that had closed because of the lockdown would re-open as “this is a resilient sector”.