Over one million domestic tourists have flocked to Durban’s beaches this holiday season.
More visitors are expected as the season wraps up, according to eThekwini Municipality mayor Mxolisi Kaunda.
On Thursday, Kaunda was busy with oversight visits across Durban and handing out Christmas cards.
“We are nearing the end of a year that has been characterised by the unrelenting march of Covid-19 through our communities and by the unrest that befell our city in July,” reads Kaunda’s Christmas cards.
“Together these events have caused hardship, but the people of eThekwini have shown remarkable resilience.”
Kaunda’s first stop was at the YMCA taxi rank, where he reminded commuters to continue adhering to the Covid-19 prevention measures during their festivities.
This week KwaZulu-Natal emerged as the province with the most Covid-19 infections, with eThekwini accounting for a large majority of those.
“We wish to appeal to everyone here in eThekwini to behave responsibly so that we don’t continue to have more cases of Covid-19,” said the mayor.
He also visited the popular Durban beach promenade where he interacted with tourists from different parts of the country.
“People are spending their money; they are going to different hotels and our hotels are improving in terms of their intakes and we are happy that people [see] the city as their [travel] destination,” said Kaunda.
Ahmed Akhail from Johannesburg said he had been in Durban for a few days and had booked into a beachside hotel. “We just came for the fresh sea breeze of Durban and we are having a good time,” he said.
Rose Radebe and her daughter, Sithati, rode a rickshaw for the first time in their lives.
The family had made the long drive from Johannesburg.
“My granddaughter is two months old, we wanted to take her into the water and bless her. She obviously doesn’t know what is happening but in a few years she will look back at the pictures and be very happy,” she said.
The Radebe family was being wheeled around the beach front by an experienced rickshaw driver, Mjabuliseni Dlamini.
Dlamini said business has been very hard over the past two years with the beach lockdowns due to Covid-19.
“Our customers are now more local, which does not make much difference to us because everyone comes for an experience when they ride with us,” said Dlamini.
While tourists continued to flock to KZN beaches, the suspension of popular year-end events in the city is hard not to notice.
In pre-Covid times, there would have been event posters plastered all over the city. The iconic New Year’s Eve crossover music festival — Fact Durban Rocks — was also cancelled for a second year running.
In a statement, the organisers said they faced a lot of “red tape” trying to plan the event within the 2 000 outdoor limit.
“The possibility of even further reduction in numbers [seemed] even more likely. This has created too much of a risk for us to continue,” the statement reads.
Phathisa Mfuyo, KZN Department of Arts and Culture spokesperson, said due to Covid-19 fears there wouldn’t be any year-end events.
“We don’t usually plan events ourselves, we support them, but this festive season there are no events to support,” she said.