EThekwini Mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda, says hospitality establishments in the city only had an occupancy rate of 65% over the festive season, citing this as a decline compared to previous years. Kaunda said the main reason for this drop was that some beaches were closed due to high E.coli levels.
Floods in April last year caused damage to sewerage infrastructure resulting in untreated sewage flowing into rivers and the sea around Durban.
The festive season is over and now businesses are counting their gains and losses. During the festive season only 12 beaches in eThekwini were open to the public because of the sewage spills.
Kaunda, says despite all the challenges they did receive visitors.
“We are proud that once again Durban lived up to its tag of being Africa’s playground, although there were limitations. This was demonstrated by thousands of visitors who flocked to our beaches, promenade, restaurants, hotels and B&Bs. This translates into 702 735 visitors with a direct spend of R1.5 billion, over R3.8 billion contribution to GDP and 7775 jobs during this festive season.”
However, Kaunda admitted that there was a significant decline in visitors.
“The loss of numbers of tourists in the City, it was given that with the challenges that we are faced, there were people who were running the campaign on daily bases that people should not come over here, the 2019 figures were around 980 000 visitors which now we have dropped from that number to 702 000 that we have mentioned. So the reasons are obvious that people thought that when they come here they will find all beaches working then it is not all beaches that were working.”
#sabcnews Kaunda asked to compare the difference in tourist numbers between 2019 vs. 2022. This is his response. pic.twitter.com/5w6RcenFiF
— Nonkululeko Hlophe (@Leko3) January 12, 2023
In the video below South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, Desmond D’sa and Umhlanga Tourism Chair Duncan Heafield discuss the impact of beach closures:
Meanwhile, the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa Chair, Rosemary Anderson, says although the festive season statistics are not yet available, based on their observation and information they received from their members in Durban, the season was not that bad.
Anderson also acknowledged that there was a decline in occupancy rate.
“We for example saw that the Western Cape, the number of vehicles coming into the N1 through Paarl and Worster past COVID levels, if we look at the number of international arrivals in Cape Town International Airport they were like 93.6 % of pre-COVID levels, the domestic arrivals were about 72.3% even areas that received quite bad press about the beach closure in Durban did not fair too badly. In Umhlanga because of the beach closure they had about 78 % of pre-COVID levels that compares quite similarly to the domestic arrivals for the same period of 72.2% of the airport in domestic arrivals in Cape Town airport. From our members who are Fedhasa members are saying that in the Durban area, they reached levels which are really good like pre-COVID levels and some are slightly reduced but generally they were better on rate slightly down on occupancy. “
The eThekwini Municipality says repairs to the infrastructure damaged during the floods is continuing.
Source: SABC News (sabcnews.com)