EThekwini Municipality Mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda, is upbeat about the prospects for recovery in the tourism sector in Durban, Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Speaking at the Tourism Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) webinar hosted in partnership with Tourism Investment Africa (TIA360) and Invest Durban, Kaunda said that the sector’s road to recovery was evident during the Easter period this year as more than 45 000 visitors travelled to the city for their holiday.
“As a result of this influx of visitors, the hospitality industry saw hotel occupancy rates hovering above 60 per cent, which was higher than forecast,” said Kaunda.
He stated that eThekwini’s economy received a boost with direct spending at approximately R60 million and a GDP contribution of around R150 million, and a total of 320 jobs created over this period.
Kaunda noted that the City wants to maintain this momentum through several interventions being expanded in eThekwini within the next few weeks, such as the partnership with the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry to attract investors and to boost tourism and business market.
The Mayor also called upon local tourism businesses to be part of the TIA360 Business Retention and Expansion partnership programme which will be an important component of rebuilding investment in the tourism sector.
He said eThekwini that other interventions which have started to yield positive results towards the tourism sector recovery include providing incentives to small businesses since the outbreak of Covid-19. This includes converting B&B rates from commercial to residential for a limited period and doubling the financial support to CTOs (Community Tourism Orgs).
“We have also embarked on a more targeted and aggressive marketing campaign to keep Durban top of mind to both investors and leisure travellers alike,” said Kaunda.
The international guest speaker at the conference, Dr Taleb Rifai, who is the former Secretary-General of the United Nations’ World Tourism Organisation and currently the Secretary-General of the World Tourism Forum Institute, said that the global travel industry will only return to a new norm when the whole world is ready to travel under a unified system. He added that in tourism there was no competition between neighbours.
“Countries will have to work together if tourism is to recover – one country cannot insist on quarantine while its neighbour demands a vaccination passport and a third simply requires 72 hours testing before arrival or at entry points,” Dr Rifai said.
“We do not want to turn this into a political game of those who have and those that have not – we will all lose if we do so. Fewer numbers may travel to a non-vaccinated destination and no vaccinated destination would accept receiving anyone from a non-vaccinated destination. Travel is about connecting everybody, everywhere.
“Affordable testing in a harmonised way may be more logical for a faster and more immediate recovery. The trick is not to do a perfect job on your own; it is to agree on minimum procedures.”
He emphasised that the current winner from the COVID-19 travel crises is domestic and regional tourism.
Added Russell Curtis of Invest Durban: “South Africa was in the top spot in Africa and second place globally when it comes to domestic business travel recovery rates.” (This according to a recent report last month by Flight Centre Travel Group.)
Tourism Investment Africa (TIA360) has partnered with Invest Durban, Durban Tourism, and Durban Chamber of Commerce to offer a support package to help tourism businesses prepare them for access to finance and then link them with appropriate financial institutions that can offer assistance. If you would like your Durban based business to participate in the programme, visit https://www.tia360.africa/bre/ and complete the questionnaire.
About Tourism Investment Africa 360 (TIA360)
Connecting investment with broader tourism sector opportunities
Tourism Investment Africa 360 (TIA360) is a platform to mobilise and stimulate investment in Africa’s tourism. It is a contributor to growth and transformation of the sector by accelerating the number of tourism businesses that receive funding and boosting investment into the sector by matching sector opportunities with investors.
This is achieved through the following platforms:
Digital platform (Always-On and Go-To-HUB)
Remodeller (including Business Retention and Expansion)