Meander’s big contribution

2008-06-24 00:00

One of the country’s most successful tourism routes, the Midlands Meander (MM) contributes an estimated R359 million a year towards the regional economy and currently employs about 2 100 people across all categories of business — attracting about 385 000 visitors every year.

Significantly, expectations for future growth are optimistic and 62% of Midlands Meander Association (MMA) members surveyed expect fast growth in the next financial year.

A further 18% expect turnover to increase moderately.

The findings come out of the Midlands Meander Economic and Marketing Research Report compiled by local economist Clive Coetzee.

The report — commissioned by the MMA in conjunction with Tourism KZN — was funded by the European Union initiative, Gijima KZN.

About a third of MMA members surveyed plan to expand their operations.

About 75% of these businesses intend to invest up to R1 million each — and this will no doubt serve as a catalyst for employment growth in the region.

Interestingly, the market value of land and buildings along the route is estimated at about R1,15 billion and the annual wage bill amounts to about R63 million.

The MMA has about 180 members, mainly small to medium enterprises (SMEs).

Most members characterised the local economy as growing slowly (42%) or fast (24%). The remaining 34% of respondents thought the economy had stagnated, steadily declined or experienced business cycles.

South African tourists comprise an estimated 89% of the total visitor number.

The report has emerged out of detailed research, including a customer survey, a member survey and member workshops.

“The relocation of Durban International Airport to La Mercy, and the prospects of the Dube Tradeport and King Shaka Airport, will further boost tourism in the regional economy, and it is likely that positive ripple effects of this development will be felt in the Midlands Meander area,” said Coetzee.

MMA: Membership business profile:

— Market value of land and buildings used for MM business: R435 million.

— Main activity by establishment: hospitality.

— 20% of members have been in business for under three years.

— 55% have a turnover of less than R500 000 per annum.

— Main sources of turnover: accommodation 36%, food and beverages 20%, arts/crafts 19%.

— 65% of members state turnover has increased in past year, 15% static and 20% decrease.

— Profitability: 48% profits have increased, 24% static and 28% decreased.

— Salaries and wages: 48% of members have a wage bill of less than R100 000 per annum and 25% between R100 000 and R250 000.

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