Durban Tourism head Phillip Sithole said while tourism targets for the year would be affected, there were plans in place to mitigate the damage. Photo: Peter Bendheim

Durban - Some businesses around Durban have lost up to 70% in revenue – running into millions of rands – over the past two weeks, as a result of the xenophobic attacks.

Figures revealed by Durban Tourism to The Mercury this week show that hotels, restaurants and shops were all affected by the violence, with leading hotel group Tsogo Sun facing up to 30 cancellations last week alone.

Umhlanga Tourism reported not having received a single booking from visitors to the Indaba trade show, to be held in Durban next month.

Some bed ’n’ breakfast establishments in Westville reported that bookings for Indaba had been cancelled while beach restaurants suffered a loss of revenue of up to 70%. However, restaurants in the vibrant Florida Road area in Morningside were less affected, with most reporting a minor dip in sales.

Restaurants in Umhlanga, Durban North and Westville reported business as usual.

One tourist was left shaken after witnessing the violent attacks during a tour of the city centre, while a British tour group was refused permission to leave its tour bus during a tour of the inner city.

Most inner city businesses reported losses of between 60% and 70% as a result of having to close early and still pay their staff.

Durban Tourism head Phillip Sithole said while tourism targets for the year would be affected, there were plans in place to mitigate the damage. This included a series of multimillion-rand international campaigns to win back tourists and reclaim Durban’s reputation of being South Africa’s friendliest city.

The city had also renewed its contract with National Geographic which included television ads and coverage in the National Geographic magazine, which boasts an international readership of 10 million.

Durban Tourism was also finalising the appointment of branding agencies in key international markets, including the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. The agencies would begin their Durban promotions in July.

“We are not going to simply sit back while all our efforts to put Durban on the tourism map go up in flames. We are pursuing an aggressive strategy to show the world that Durban is not burning and that we are still a nation open to tourists.

“We are going to be hosting 120 German tour operators and travel agents next week as part of our kick-off, along with a large foreign media contingent of around 300 journalists who will be visiting our city during Indaba,” said Sithole.

Durban Tourism would also promote the city for a day on American television channel CNBC, which would broadcast from Indaba. In addition, prime advertising space hasd been secured on key international channels Euro Sports and Discovery.

“One of the messages we want to put out there is that the attacks against foreigners which played out across media platforms around the world is not an attack on tourists. While we all condemn the violence against foreigners, not a single tourist or tourism areas were targeted,” said Sithole.

He said he was concerned about the images circulating on social media purportedly showing people being necklaced in the streets of Durban.

“Nobody was necklaced in the city and the incorrect reports have further fuelled fear among those wanting to visit Durban. We are investigating the images and will make recommendations to council on what steps we feel need to be taken as part of our damage control measures,” said Sithole.

The Mercury