Coast KZN

22 Apr 2022

Knockout blow for North Coast tourism in wake of floods

Juan Venter (North Coast Courier) Picture: According to Enterprise iLembe, occupancy decreased from an expected 90-100% to under 40%.

This Easter was not a season to write home about for the North Coast accommodation sector. This, after floods ravaged the province last week.

“Occupancy rates decreased from the expected 90-100% to under 40%,” Enterprise iLembe CEO Linda Mncube said.

“This is a major blow to the sector which is still recovering from the impact of Covid-19 and the July 2021 unrest. Added to this is the current water crisis affecting a large number of hotels, guesthouses and restaurants.”

While mop-up operations are still underway, holiday and letting agencies in Ballito report as much as R500 000 losses in some individual cases. Cyberview Letting’s Inus van Schalkwyk told the Courier, compared to last year’s Easter period, their turnover dropped from R2.3-million to R1.8-million.

“The storms and floods were sudden and at least 20% of our clients opted to cancel their trips.”

In many cases clients were refunded in full, but Van Schalkwyk said the biggest problem was the lack of communication from authorities to indicate the return of services.

“We are very concerned about how soon water supply to Ballito will be restored, while a stable electrical network in KwaDukuza is another key factor,” he said.

Sharon Els of Parsons Holiday Letting shared the concerns, saying that although they had not had all that many cancellations, many clients opted to book for another period, which still meant significant losses for Easter.

“Electricity and water are major concerns for us. We could not take any extra bookings because of the uncertainty.”

Els said they were unable to effectively clean units and provide laundry services.

“For the clients on holiday, it was not a pleasant experience, but many were understanding of the situation,” she said.

Parsons calculated their loss for Easter at about R100 000, with R10 000 added for cancellations.

iLembe Chamber of Commerce CEO, Cobus Oelofse, said the floods could not have come at a worse time, with Easter being the second largest tourism period.

“This has an immediate economic impact. Struggling hospitality and tourism businesses relied on this period to get off their knees.

“It is a priority for both the public and private sector to regain some resemblance of normality for the remainder of the holidays. Repairs to road networks will remain a concern for some time, as well as other economic infrastructure,” Oelofse said, noting that the resumption of services to manufacturers, especially food and other essential goods, was also a priority.

Mncube said government would continue with humanitarian aid and reinstating damaged infrastructure.

“Consequently, a comprehensive economic relief package is yet to be announced,” he said.

According to Mncube, the Department of Small Business Development has announced a relief fund which will be aimed at businesses without insurance, as well as informal traders. Once these measures are introduced, municipal authorities will assist those impacted.