SA’s crises dampen recovering tourism sector’s mood
from FUTHI MBHELE in Durban
DURBAN – AUTHORITIES in the KwaZulu-Natal province are encouraged by the tourism sector returning to pre COVID-19 levels.
However, prevailing national issues are hampering the process. The sluggish global economic outlook is also of concern.
“There are signs that the sector is gradually returning to pre-COVID-19 levels,” said Ethekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda.
He was speaking at an engagement with the leadership of nine community tourism organisations (CTOs) in the municipality. The meeting was for CTOs on Wednesday to enhance strategies to promote their product offerings.
Kaunda said tourist numbers into Durban appear to have displayed resilience as passengers into the King Shaka International Airport have increased by 321 percent, when comparing the latest flight destination figures of December 2022, to their most recent all time low in July 2021.
“We are currently observing a dramatic increase in international visitors as more international airlines are opening new routes in Durban,” the mayor said.
Kaunda said since corporate meetings, conferences and workshops have reverted to in-person attendance, Durban stands to benefit from increased traffic and should prepare its corporate facilities.
“Another opportunity that we have observed is that work from home or flexible remote working has resulted in previously inland (Gauteng) based top executives relocating to KwaZulu-Natal fully or partially,” he continued.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, global travel and tourism gross domestic product 9GDP) is expected to grow by 5,8 percent per annum on average over the 2022 – 2032 decade.
However, as the global economy threatens to be sluggish in 2023, luxury travel and tourism in general are at risk of being sacrificed for necessities.
CTOs also lamented the local economic crisis, marked by prolonged load shedding, ageing infrastructure and inadequate funding for CTOs to market their products.
Kaunda assured CTOs that the city will continue to assist them with funding of over R255 000 (US$14 929) each annually to market their products.
Regarding load shedding, Kaunda pointed out that government was considering declaring a national state of disaster.
He is optimistic under the arrangement, government would energy support to tourism companies that cannot afford to invest in the necessary alternative equipment.
Ethekwini is forging ahead with the procurement of 400 MW of alternative energy (300 MW gas and 100 MW solar) from independent power producers in line with its Energy Transition Policy.
“A concurrence has been received from the provincial government to proceed with this programme,” Kaunda said.
– CAJ News