Tourism industry bemoans low bookings

AS THE 2010 World Cup draws closer the KwaZulu-Natal tourism industry is less than happy with the number of visitors booked into the province's holiday destinations.

AS THE 2010 World Cup draws closer the KwaZulu-Natal tourism industry is less than happy with the number of visitors booked into the province's holiday destinations.

Andrew Zaloumis, Isimangaliso Wetlands Park chief executive, yesterday said they had begun hosting international visitors but the number was still low.

"We have not seen the influx of international tourists yet, but we have already hosted a few British guests. We believe with time we will see the number increase," he said.

Zaloumis said Isimangaliso boasted the African Big 5 and that wetlands activities included a boat ride on a lake that is the habitat of crocodiles and hippos.

Zaloumis said they also had a variety of franchise restaurants that would be able to satisfy the expected different cultures and tastes.

The provincial Federation Hospitality of South Africa spokesperson Warren Ozard confirmed that accommodation providers were also worried by the low number of international bookings.

Ozard said 80percent of the accommodation that had been booked had been returned to the hospitality industry since the tournament would coincide with the winter school holidays.

"Bookings by international guests have been poor and many hotels are empty. We are encouraging those who have visited the province before to return considering the five weeks of warm winter weather," Ozard said.

Bed-and-breakfast owner Tsepo Ngwanyane is clearly disappointment by the low bookings from international visitors.

"Since I started my business I have served local guests only. I thought the World Cup would boost my business but the bookings show that my expectations might not be realistic," Ngwanyane said.

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