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KwaZulu-Natal bucks the trend

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Idols judge Unathi Nkayi with MEC for EDTEA Ravi Pillay at San Lameer. Tourism KwaZulu-Natal Idols judge Unathi Nkayi with MEC for EDTEA Ravi Pillay at San Lameer.

MEC predicts bumper Easter season

Staff reporter 

KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: KwaZulu-Natal is on a roll attracting an increasing number of tourists, presently sitting at 65 percent hotel occupancy ahead of an anticipated bumper Easter holiday season.

And the tourism sector owes this to visitors and tourists wanting to try something new, active and outdoors – the activities the Zulu Kingdom are famous for - after their long isolation at home.

The region is bucking the trend of dismal bookings in the wake of the COVID-19 restrictions and experiencing a resurgence of interest and visitors, and were anticipating a peak of 80 percent at the state of the Easter season, said MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Ravi Pillay today (Monday). 

Pillay said: “We are looking forward to the Easter season and subsequently the July winter season. I am happy at the figures. We’re expecting about 80 percent of bookings and we think that will be the start of the revival.”

To deal with Covid, he said visitors and tourists had to learn to have a built-in consciousness about regulating their behaviour. He said travelling in a family or friend bubble were good options to mitigate the risks.

Visiting the South Coast today ahead of the Easter season launch campaign, Pillay visited the San Lameer Hotel accompanied by Ugu South Coast Tourism (USCT) CEO Phelisa Mangcu today (Monday).

The MEC’s message is that “KZN is safe, it’s cost-effective, it’s fun, it’s family-friendly, it’s nature-based and it has an extensive range of things to do”.

Mangcu stressed that USCT was prioritising visitor safety while also telling potential tourists that the region was able to offer a dynamic range of activities in nature.

“People are looking to make up for lost time, to make great memories with the family by doing something new and different. I encourage South Coast citizens to start experiencing their destination and be tourists in their own homes.’’

Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, an entity of EDTEA is on an aggressive campaign highlighting the many sites and activities that are much safer in terms of reduced COVID-19 risks. All tourism businesses, which have been fully briefed on the regulations, are able to offer visitors family-friendly open-air activities.

The South Coast also offers unique experiences like the new KwaXolo Caves Adventure (which is currently being upgraded), Wild Oribi swing, and the Red Desert (the world’s smallest desert), as well as microlighting, hiking, biking and nature trails.

The tourism entity has been working on positioning the region as a key tourism destination in the country and was expecting various developments-the upgraded Margate airport and visitor experiences in the hinterland-to aid the growth of tourism.

It was also working flat out to expand the region’s tourism reach beyond holiday tourism and targeting business tourism, events’ tourism and film production.

“This is all great for the future of the KZN South Coast communities and the economy,” Mangcu predicted.

The MEC’s visit comes in the wake of new developments and attractions on the South Coast, including a R10-million facelift to the Margate Airport.

Upgrades will include the extension of the arrivals section and the refurbishment of ablution and parking facilities as well as a new building for car hire services which will take six months to complete.

The region has long been a prime location for local and international movie-makers and film crews. The diverse landscape, including aquatic locations-good for underwater footage-and the ideal climate which allows for uninterrupted filming, said owner of Wild 5 adventures, Paul Jeffreys.

Filming is currently underway on the next season of SABC3’s Longest Date at Oribi Gorge, home to the multi-award-winning Wild 5 Adventures, which boasts the Wild Swing, the world’s highest gorge swing, just one of the company’s extreme adrenaline-rushing extreme activities.

This weekend on the South Coast TKZN hosted television presenter and Idols judge Unathi Nkayi who participated in various activities.

She said: ‘’The South Coast in KZN specifically built itself as the tourism hub of the continent and not just South Africa. This is something we have managed to enjoy even as the Idols family. South Coast has hosted us for three years consecutively to bring theatre week to you.’’