eThekwini Municipality Mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda, is upbeat about the prospects for recovery in the tourism sector in Durban, KwaZulu Natal, noting that the time was ripe for investment in the sector to further boost recovery.
Speaking at yesterday’s (April 14) Tourism Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) webinar – hosted in partnership with Tourism Investment Africa (TIA360) and Invest Durban – Kaunda said 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%, which was higher than forecast,” said Kaunda.
He said eThekwini’s economy had received a boost with direct spending at approximately R60m (€3.53m) and a GDP contribution of around R150m (€8.82m), and a total of 320 jobs created over this period.
Kaunda noted that the City of Durban planned to maintain this momentum through several interventions that included partnership with the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry to attract investors and to boost the tourism and business markets.
He also called on 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.
According to Kaunda, the City of Durban has already introduced several tourism recovery measures that have yielded positive results. These include providing incentives to small businesses as well as providing rate breaks for bed and breakfast establishments and doubling the city’s financial support to community tourism organisations.
“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.
Tourism Investment Africa has partnered with Invest Durban, Durban Tourism, and the Durban Chamber of Commerce to offer a support package to help tourism businesses and prepare them for access to finance and then link them with appropriate financial institutions.