SA pulls in the tourists

Weak­en­ing of the rand and warm cli­mate boost oc­cu­pancy rates at high-end and other ma­jor ho­tels and B&Bs in Dur­ban and Cape Town

CityPress - - News - ZINHLE MA­PUMULO zinhle.ma­pumulo@city­press.co.za

New visa reg­u­la­tions and the global eco­nomic down­turn have not stopped South Africa’s prime tourist des­ti­na­tions – Dur­ban and Cape Town – from at­tract­ing De­cem­ber hol­i­day-mak­ers in their thou­sands. Ho­tels, par­tic­u­larly five-star ho­tels, were fully booked as early as Septem­ber in both cities, said tourism au­thor­i­ties.

High-end ho­tels in Dur­ban’s Umh­langa Rocks, such as The Oys­ter Box and the Bev­erly Hills, were fully booked as early as July, said Philip Sit­hole, head of Dur­ban Tourism.

Sit­hole told City Press on Wed­nes­day that oc­cu­pancy rates at ho­tels around Dur­ban were 95%.

“This has been by far the busiest year since the global eco­nomic down­turn.

“Usu­ally by Christ­mas, we still have space in the high-end ho­tels, which cater for the up­per class, but this year there is ab­so­lutely noth­ing. One is lucky to find ac­com­mo­da­tion now, even if it’s for a day, in ho­tels such as The Oys­ter Box, Hil­ton and Bev­erly Hills.”

Wayne Coet­zer, gen­eral man­ager of The Oys­ter Box, con­firmed this, say­ing: “This is the best sea­son we have had in many years.

“2015 was a fan­tas­tic year for us. We were fully booked a lot sooner than we of­ten are, with many of our guests com­ing from abroad.”

Coet­zer ex­plained that the weak­en­ing of the rand and Dur­ban’s warm cli­mate may have con­trib­uted to The Oys­ter Box’s in­crease in for­tunes.

While high-end and other ma­jor ho­tels and B&Bs in and around Dur­ban were fully booked, Sit­hole said this did not mean that there was ab­so­lutely no ac­com­mo­da­tion in the coastal city.

“For those who want to usher into 2016 with us, there is plenty of ac­com­mo­da­tion; it’s just that it will not be closer to where things are hap­pen­ing, like on the beach­front, Umh­langa and Amanz­im­toti. There are bou­tique ho­tels as well that cater for the up-mar­ket, so there is no way that a per­son can say I can’t come to Dur­ban be­cause I won’t have a place to sleep,” he said.

Dur­ban has in re­cent years recorded a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in the num­ber of lo­cal and for­eign tourists vis­it­ing the city dur­ing the Easter and Christ­mas hol­i­days.

“What I can say is that peo­ple who visit us al­ways come back to our city be­cause the weather is great, and con­nect­ing from one area to an­other is easy and sim­ple. Dur­ban­ites are also very hos­pitable. They make our vis­i­tors feel at home,” he ex­plained.

While fig­ures are yet to be tal­lied up, Sit­hole es­ti­mated that the in­dus­try would gen­er­ate more than R3.5 bil­lion be­tween De­cem­ber 1 and the be­gin­ning of Jan­uary. He ex­plained that this was based on the sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in the num­ber of hol­i­day-mak­ers who are stay­ing at up-mar­ket ho­tels, as well as a hive of ac­tiv­i­ties that take place dur­ing the first three weeks of De­cem­ber, in­clud­ing the Telkom Cup fi­nal played be­tween Chiefs and Sun­downs, the Joy­ous Cel­e­bra­tion live CD/DVD record­ing at Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium and the cricket test match at Kingsmead.

It was a sim­i­lar pic­ture in Cape Town. En­ver Du­miny, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Cape Town Tourism, said 70.7% of avail­able rooms had been booked in Novem­ber.

Du­miny ex­plained that trav­ellers were drawn to Cape Town be­cause of its in­cred­i­ble nat­u­ral di­ver­sity, rich arts and cul­tural of­fer­ing, world-class wines and award-win­ning eater­ies.

“The Mother City of­fers the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of iconic at­trac­tions – the white, sandy beaches; Table Moun­tain; the V&A Water­front; and Robben Is­land; along­side quirky neigh­bour­hood ex­pe­ri­ences like a guided street art tour of Wood­stock, or an­tique, art and bric-a-brac shop­ping in Kalk Bay,” he said.

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PHOTO: TEBOGO LET­SIE

DE­LI­CIOUS DUR­BAN Thou­sands of hol­i­day-mak­ers made their way to Dur­ban’s beach­front two weeks ago. Dur­ban has in re­cent years recorded a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in the num­ber of lo­cal and for­eign tourists vis­it­ing the city dur­ing the Easter and Christ­mas hol­i­days

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