Coast KZN

06 Jan 2021

Beach ban hurts North Coast tourism

Sboniso Dlamini (North Coast Courier) Picture: Accommodation owners told the Courier they had been fully booked throughout the festive season until the President’s announcement on Monday, December 28, saw many holidaymakers return home early.

The closure of beaches created havoc in the already limping tourism industry as many holidaymakers cancelled their bookings for January. Accommodation owners in Ballito told the Courier they had been  booked throughout the festive season until the President’s announcement on Monday, December 28, saw holidaymakers return home early.

Grant Harris of Hollyhocks Chalets in Chaka’s Rock said they lost R45 000 after cancellations due to the beaches being closed.

“We were fully booked until January 20 but as soon as the president announced the closure of the beaches, bookings in 3 of our 4 units were cancelled,” said Harris.

General manager for Ballito Accommodation, Christine Grobler, said they also had many January bookings cancelled.

“December was a good month for us until the announcement of beach closures. There were tenants who decided to leave and some stayed. However, a lot of our January bookings were cancelled,” said Grobler.

A lone lifeguard watches over the normally popular Clarke Bay in Ballito.

Howard Hulett from Sea Dreams Guesthouse said they had cancellations of January bookings, with a few who rescheduled for later this year.

Parsons Holiday Letting manager Sharon Els said they had had 11 cancellations for January so far and the number was growing.

“People are worried about the second wave and they are not sure if they will be allowed to travel,” said Els, who reported they had been 90% booked in December.

Cheryl Peters from Enterprise iLembe said cancellations had started at around 10% with the closure of the beaches on the public holidays with even more with the blanket beach ban.  She said the average occupancy between September and November 2020 was greater than that of 2019, from around 53% to 70%, which had been a much-needed boost for the tourism sector.

“Between March and July 2019 there was a decline of 86% of visitors to the district, resulting in a loss of about R2 billion to the GDP of the district during this time. The initial occupancy for peak festive season was around 95% in 2020 in comparison to an estimated 100% in 2019,” said Peters.

Level 3 adjusted restrictions have also had major negative impacts on the restaurant and hospitality industry.