Durban had a resurgent long heritage weekend witnessing a surge of visitors and a flurry of activities, signalling a robust recovery in tourism and business.
The city played host to a plethora of annual events, drawing visitors from across South Africa and beyond.
Accommodation establishments in the city experienced an occupancy rate of over 65 percent, with the direct spend in eThekwini estimated at a whopping R120 million.
This influx is projected to contribute a substantial R300 million to the GDP, generating approximately 1,300 jobs, a much-needed boost in these tough economic times.
The numbers come amid water crisis plaguing the northern parts of Durban where many of the city’s prime hotels are located in the area of uMhlanga.
According to DA KZN Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs spokesperson Heinz de Boer, the week-long water crisis affected more than 100 000 residents north of Durban and had a disastrous impact on the prime tourism region.
It was not clear what impact this had on tourism, but the reservoirs were returning to normal by Tuesday and water began flowing back into taps.
However, the Municipality, the city’s tourism was not confined to local visitors, with a significant number hailing from Gauteng and international guests arriving from countries including Germany, Belgium, China, India, Madagascar, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, and Ethiopia.
The Durban Business Fair and the Durban Fashion Fair, premier events in the business and fashion landscapes of South Africa, were the major draws, attracting over 20,000 visitors.
Durban’s tapestry of events continued with the hosting of the National Heritage Day celebration at Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaMashu and attended by thousands and led by dignitaries including Deputy President Paul Mashatile, Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Zizi Kodwa, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube, and eThekwini Deputy Mayor Zandile Myeni.
This celebration also marked the commencement of the National Indigenous Games Festival at Hoy Park, a showcase of South African indigenous games, with participation from all nine provinces.
Team KwaZulu-Natal, the reigning champions, have clinched the national games on 12 consecutive occasions.
Myeni expressed optimism about the city’s tourism sector, highlighting Durban’s renowned capability to host major events and its rapid return to pre-Covid-19 visitor numbers.
“Durban remains Africa’s playground, offering a plethora of experiences from sea, sand, outdoor adventure, sports, heritage, a township vibe, and vibrant nightlife,” she said.
The city’s Sizzling Summer campaign is in full swing, with Durban Tourism teams promoting destination Durban on national and international tours, aiming to attract targeted visitors during the summer holidays.
The announcement that Durban’s iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium will host the MTN 8 final match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates on 7 October 2023 was warmly welcomed, emphasising the significant contribution of sports tourism to the city’s growth.
Durban Tourism’s recent hosting of a United Arab Emirates trade and media delegation on 10 September aimed to showcase the myriad attractions of destination Durban, from hotels to tours and airlines.
Local entrepreneurs like Ephraim Mbatha, founder of Qalakahle Lodge, expressed gratitude for the big events, emphasising their role in sustaining businesses and providing development opportunities like the Durban Business Fair.
“These platforms have greatly assisted us in terms of networking and building a clientele base,” said Mbatha.
This bumper long weekend, marked by a blend of cultural richness, business acumen, and international appeal, underscores Durban’s enduring allure and its pivotal role in driving the tourism and economic resurgence of the region.