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07 Apr 2021

Business booms as visitors flock back to North Coast over Easter

James Anderson (North Coast Courier)

With beaches open and restaurants allowed to run with minimal restrictions, the Easter weekend saw a huge influx of tourists to the North Coast. Although tourists in December were disappointed by the closure of beaches, a number were willing to try again and give Ballito a much-needed tourism boost.

“There was a huge difference in visitors for these past 3 weeks. It was so good to see all of the old faces who make Ballito a regular destination for their holidays,” said Hops manager, Ivan Kuppasamy.

Clarke Bay trader Joyce Ngidi said she had been relieved to see visitors return to the beaches over the Easter weekend.

Taso’s owners Andre and Annetjie Erasmus echoed the sentiment.

“We had an incredible weekend. People said we were going to have a rush, but we never could have expected the number of people who walked through our doors,” said Andre.

In addition to the visitors, Andre also said local support had improved.

“The locals here have supported us beyond belief. We are so blessed and grateful to be part of such a great community,” he said.

In the past, the influx of tourists has signaled an increase in crime as tourists were targeted for petty theft as easy targets, said Umhlali Saps spokesperson, Captain Vinny Pillay. This year, however, a community safety initiative that was implemented in preparation for the weekend worked flawlessly, he said.

“The planning for the operation, with the Ballito UIP, KwaDukuza Municipality (KDM) and various security companies was ideal because everyone was working towards the same goal,” he said.

No major incidents were reported and Captain Pillay said the beaches were incident free. The Ballito UIP reported the same.

“It was very successful and we are unaware of any crime incidents,” said Ballito UIP spokesperson, Melanie Rosettenstein.

Planning has already begun for a similar operation during the next holiday period, she said. The reduction in crime and alcohol abuse had a noticeable positive knock-on effect on businesses.

“The beaches were packed, but everything was so well controlled that people felt comfortable coming into the restaurants near the beach. They did not have to deal with the crime and drunkenness that were prevalent in the past,” said Kuppasamy.

KDM lifeguard superintendent Bongani Xulu praised the awareness and skills of his lifeguards, who carried out a mass rescue on Sunday, April 4 at Salt Rock main beach.

“We had perfect conditions all weekend but it turned on Sunday and high winds and riptides came into play. At around 4 pm, 5 people were swept out to sea and had to be rescued. I am so proud of the way my guys handled it and they were able to get all 5 back to shore safely,” he said.

Further away from the busy beaches, the Ballito Lifestyle Centre also reported an increase in foot traffic and visitors.

“All our tenants gave positive feedback on the Easter weekend and there was a great atmosphere and energy in the centre. The restaurants and The Market were also very well supported by locals and upcountry visitors,” said Lifestyle Centre spokesperson, Tessa Woodley.