EThekwini Municipality Mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda is upbeat about the recovery of the tourism sector in the city. He called upon local tourism businesses to be part of the Business Retention and Expansion programme, which will be an important component of rebuilding the tourism sector.
Speaking at the Tourism Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) webinar hosted in partnership with Tourism Investment Africa 360 (TIA) on 14 April, Kaunda said that the sector’s road to recovery was evident during the Easter period this year as more than 45 000 visitors descended to the city for holidays.
He stated that eThekwini’s economy received a boost with direct spending at approximately R60 million and a GDP contribution of around R150 million, with a total of 320 jobs created over this period. Kaunda added that it is such progressive strides that encouraged the City to partner with TIA360 to offer a support package to help tourism businesses prepare themselves for access to finance and then link them with appropriate financial institutions that can offer assistance.
He further noted that they want to maintain this momentum through several interventions to be launched in eThekwini within the next few weeks such as partnering with the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) to attract investors in the city to boost tourism and business market.
Mayor Kaunda mentioned that other interventions that have started to yield positive strides towards the tourism sector recovery includes providing incentives to small businesses since the outbreak of Covid-19 like converting Bed and Breakfasts rates from commercial to residential for a limited period. “We have also embarked on an aggressive marketing campaign to keep Durban top of mind to visitors,” said Kaunda.
TIA360’s Chief Executive Officer, Sindile Xulu said the BR&E programme is internationally recognised as a tool to promote the retention and growth of local businesses. “BR&E can provide sustainable and innovative solutions for companies in the tourism sector that have been adversely affected by the lockdown.”
The guest speaker at the conference, Dr Taleb Rifai, who is also a former SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations’ World Tourism Organisation and currently the Secretary General of the World Tourism Forum Institute said that global travel industry will only return to a new norm when the whole world is ready to travel under a unified system. He added that in tourism there was no competition between neighbours.
“Countries will have to work together if tourism is to recover – one country cannot insist on quarantine while its neighbour demands a vaccination passport and a third simply requires 72 hours testing before arrival or at entry points,” Dr Rifai said. He emphasised that the current winner from the COVID-19 travel crises is domestic and regional tourism. South Africa was in top spot in Africa and second internationally when it comes to domestic business travel recovery, as per recent Flight Centre Travel Group report.
If you would like your Durban based tourism business to participate in the BR&E programme, you can complete a questionnaire on: www.tia360.africa/bre