A tale of two?cities: Durban

2014-12-28 17:00

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South Africans – like the rest of the world – are feeling the pinch in their pockets, but are certainly not letting it stand in the way of enjoying a good holiday.

To prove it, thousands of holiday-makers checked into hotels along the coast and in guesthouses around the Durban city centre this week.

By Wednesday, Durban Tourism said local hotels were 95% full.

The head of Durban Tourism, Phillip Sithole, said this had by far been the busiest year since the global financial crisis began in 2008.

“Usually by Christmas we still have space in the high-end hotels that cater for people in the upper classes, but there is absolutely nothing this year.

“You will be lucky to find accommodation, even if it’s for a day, in hotels like The Oyster Box, Hilton and Beverly Hills,” he said.

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

“We are experiencing the highest occupancies and the best average room rates and yields since we opened in 2010. It’s been phenomenal.”

Sithole said while major coastal hotels and B&Bs around the Durban city centre were fully booked, “it doesn’t mean there is no accommodation”.

“For those who want to usher in 2015 with us, there is plenty of accommodation.

“It’s just that it will not be close to where things are happening, like on the beachfront, Umhlanga and Amanzimtoti,” he said.

So is Durban the country’s favourite holiday city?

Sithole said he could not say if it was outdoing Cape Town because no research had been conducted on the subject.

“However, Durban has been recording a significant increase in local and foreign tourists during Easter and Christmas holidays in recent years,” he said. “What I can say is that people who visit us always come back.”

While the figures have yet to be tallied, Sithole estimated that the industry would generate more than R2?billion between December 10 and January next year, up from R1.8?billion last year.

He said this figure was based on the significant increase in the number of holiday-makers staying in five-star hotels such as the Beverly Hills and The Oyster Box.

Both hotels, situated in Umhlanga, north of Durban, made it into the top 10 of the New World Wealth’s list of top SA hotels for the super-rich, which was released in September.

Beverly Hills was ranked at number eight, with 300 multimillionaires staying at the hotel, and The Oyster Box was 10th, with 200 megawealthy patrons spending a night or two there.

Room rates at The Oyster Box start at R3?854 per night and go up to R50?000, while the presidential suite at the Beverly Hills costs R9?300.

To make the list, the multimillionaires had to be worth at least R100?million.

The Lost City and Sun City topped the list with 900 multimillionaire stays. This was followed by The Michelangelo in Sandton (with 700) and The Table Bay in Cape Town (600), while the Sandton Sun & Towers grabbed fourth spot with 500.

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