Rain means a tough season for Durban, but hotels are doing alright

2013-12-19 00:00

THE persistent bad weather has left the hospitality industry playing a waiting game for the next leg of the festive season (last two weeks of December) to determine whether gains or losses were made.

Durban Tourism estimated that more than 1,2 million people could be expected on the Durban shores this festive season.

Phillip Sithole, head of Durban Tourism, said the city budgeted R40 million this year for marketing and branding the city locally and overseas.

Chairperson of the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (Fedhasa), Gerhard Patzer, said the B&Bs and guest houses were left behind in the first part of the festive season while the main-stream hotels were well-off.

“We still have the second part of this month to see if there were any spin-offs for the B&Bs and guest houses. As for the hotels, they have done well so far compared to the same period last year,” he said.

Janus Horn of Sica’s Guest House in Berea said business was slow compared to last year. “A number of factors could be at play here. These include high travel costs and the weather,” he said.

Peter Rose of Umhlanga Tourism blamed the bad weather for “spoiling” the first two weeks of the festive season. He said it was too early to tell if the expected figure would be achieved or not.

“These two weeks were not as busy as last year for small establishments. We’ll have to wait until the last leg of the festive season to tell if small businesses benefited or not.”

Meanwhile, Sithole was confident that the spin-offs would be enjoyed by all involved — both in tourism and the hospitality industry.

However, he confirmed most B&Bs and guest houses were not fully booked.

He said despite the rain, there were lots of activities if people prefer to stay away from the beach. “We are not concerned about the weather. From Monday last week to Sunday we have already had visitors that were part of the volleyball and chess tournaments here in Durban … On Monday, the beachfront was packed despite the rain.”

“Our tourists are not dependent on the beach only. They are spoilt for choice from the flea markets to arts and crafts events, restaurants including those in the townships like the one in Clermont. They can also visit our cultural and historic sites around Durban,” said Sithole.

He said another tourist attraction is the Umgababa Picnic over the New Year, which attracts more than 25 000 people every January. “In Amanzimtoti and Umhlanga Rocks a variety of events will commence this weekend until the end of the year. All these activities are free of charge. The rain is not a concern because judging from history, people flock to the city whether it rains or not,” he said.

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