Flooding on south coast puts damper on winter tourism

2008-07-01 00:00

The recent floods along the KwaZulu-Natal’s coastline have had a huge impact on tourism figures, said south coast Tourism.

South Coast Tourism CEO Michael Bertram said this year’s winter season is “much quieter” than previous years because of the recent floods and high petrol costs.

Another factor is the movement of sardine shoals away from the south coast. Numbers of local visitors have dwindled in the past two weeks.

He said said that Durban and Pietermaritzburg tourism authorities have also noticed a decrease in tourists.

“Everyone is feeling the pinch now with the petrol and interest rate hikes. It will not be a good holiday season like last year,” he said.

Bertram said that flood damage to beaches like Uvongo and Ramsgate means a loss of income to hotels, restaurants and other tourist facilities in the area.

He said that his offices have been inundated with calls from concerned holidaymakers asking about the conditions of the beaches.

Some asked if they would lose their deposits if they didn’t come, while others postponed their holidays.

Bertram said the disaster management team has worked tirelessly to clean up the beaches and rivers, but some beaches are still damaged.

“We are trying our best to direct people to beaches where there are sardine events. Margate Beach is one of the best people can visit,” he said.

While tourism has taken a major dip, Bertram was quick to say they have had bumper tourism figures in previous years.

“At the end of the day, business has profited from decades of good service from the domestic market. We appreciate [locals’] loyalty to us,” he said.

Bertram said many international tourists who had previously visited the south coast called the tourism office to offer assistance with relief efforts.

“People from as far away as Germany have called to enquire about the disaster management efforts. It’s great to see goodwill of people who have spent many happy holidays on the coast,” he said.

sharlenep@witness.co.za

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