KZN welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors in public holiday bonanza
An estimated R1bn is expected to flow into KwaZulu-Natal's economy in the upcoming holiday period, with tourism authorities anticipating 250,000 domestic and 60,000 international visitors.
"With the school holidays and a mere few weeks separating the Easter weekend, Freedom Day (May 27) and Labour Day (May 1), travellers are responding positively to holidaying in KZN," according to research provided by SA Tourism and shared by Tourism KZN on Wednesday.
For the Easter weekend (Friday April 19 to Monday April 22), Durban Tourism is expecting 100,000 visitors to the city to be spending their money on entertainment, holiday accommodation, car rentals and restaurants, among others.
"Going on the rate of bookings we have had for activities and accommodation already, KZN looks set for another bumper season. We're proud to be part of what is a vibrant, creative and important economic sector for this region," said Phindile Makwakwa, acting CEO for Tourism KZN.
"We receive a lot of visitors and travellers from our key source markets - locally from within KwaZulu-Natal itself and Gauteng, and on the long-haul our expected markets are the UK, Germany and the US," Makwakwa added.
The Federated Hospitality Association of SA (Fedhasa) is also anticipating a "late surge of bookings’" with hotels in the province filling up. Restaurants, theatres and retailers are also gearing up for positive numbers.
Charles Preece, east coast operational manager for Fedhasa, said: "Holidaymakers tend to book very late. Our hotels are not at 100% occupancy as yet, but we expect last-minute bookings. The harsh economic times, rising inflation, petrol prices and toll fees do inhibit travellers."
During April last year, Tourism KZN statistics show, more than 429,174 people visited the province via air and road. Hoteliers revealed occupancy of 63.8% during this time.
Religious tourism is also popular during this period because of Good Friday and Easter Monday.
Tourism KwaZulu-Natal has identified religious tourism as an important niche market. Places of worship with year-round interest, it says, include a tour of the many mission stations dotted about the province, most being off-shoots from the Trappist Mariannhill Monastery outside Durban, or the Centocow Mission in Underberg.
There is also the Holocaust Centre at the Durban Jewish Club, with the adjacent Garden of Remembrance. In addition, there is a Buddhist Retreat Centre near Ixopo, and tours are available at the Jummah Mosque for visitors wanting to learn about the Islamic faith and the building's fascinating architecture.