fun by seaside

KWAZULU-NATAL Tourism expects a bumper festive season with thousands of holidaymakers flocking to the region, chief executive officer Ndabo Khoza has said.

"It is ready to fil the joyful hearts of those that visit the region," Khoza said yesterday.

The festive season has begun and people are already flocking to the zone, specifically due to its coast lands.

Khoza said the region was regarded as one that enticed people with its spectacular and fascinating multicultural showpiece destinations supplemented by the warm Indian Ocean and soaring peaks.

He said the local airport had experienced 300000 domestic arrivals and more than 3000 foreign arrivals.

The December-January period could see about 10000 foreign visitors.

He said despite the lower occupancy levels at some hotels, the main tourist areas were doing well.

"Some hotels have been full since Monday due to the Full Gospel conference, but others report very low occupancies for this time of year, and interest in Durban has waned perceptibly in the past year or two.

"We are hoping for last- minute take-up of bed stock, but some hotels are sitting at 64 percent, some in the 70 percent range. The beginning of January next year reverts to even lower occupancies," Khoza said.

·He said the main tourist attraction areas were luring high numbers of visitors.

He said the South Coast was also doing reasonably well with some areas sitting at 90percent in terms of visitors.

Khoza said lower than usual occupancies were possibly as a result of new hotels and accommodation coming up over the past few years.

Margate was not full to capacity yet, but many of the other areas reported very high occupancy rates, though not for long periods, he said.

"The North Coast is quite full but occupancies are not as high as South Coast.

"The Drakensberg is also looking very healthy with overall good occupancies over the festive period," said Khoza

Key events in the region include a gospel concert in Ladysmith on December 20 and the 6th Annual Jazz Festival at the Hazelmere Dam on December 26. A range of beach activities, competitions and family activities have also been lined up.