Coast KZN

27 Dec 2017

Zululand tourist numbers down on last year

Tamlyn Jolly (Zululand Observer)

An iconic view of St Lucia’s McKenzie Street. (Photo: Another bad day in Zulu)

The general holiday trend to our region is down on this time last year

General consensus among Zululand leisure industry establishments is that tough economic times the world over have caused a decline in tourists to our region this festive season.

‘We have found that, while our facilities are full for the two nights over the new year period, the rest of the festive season, especially the Christmas weekend, is a lot quieter than last year,’ said Vanessa Le Roux, Chairperson of uMhlathuze Community Tourism Organisation.

With festive season holiday makers historically booking their Christmas and new year holidays in advance, establishments have resigned themselves to the fact that this period will be a lean one as they do not expect walk-ins.

Further up the coast in St Lucia, a variety of lodges said something similar, with their facilities traditionally being fully booked by July, for the Christmas period.

Others reported a late start to the season, with fewer and shorter bookings, while still others were as much as 30% down on capacity compared with this time last year.

However, on the activities side, all St Lucia tour operators, which include estuary boat tours and game reserve safaris, are reportedly fully booked for the Christmas and new year period, although none are operational on Christmas Day.

‘The trend seems to be, prior to Christmas Day we are fairly quiet, I think people buy presents and Christmas lunch and concentrate on that, but from 26 December to 2 January, every single tour operator is full and very busy,’ said Riette Bennett from St Lucia Tours, Charters and Safaris.

On the road between Mtubatuba and St Lucia, the Cheese Farm reported full capacity.

Further north still in Hluhluwe, new year bookings are more than 40% down on last year, with some establishments sitting at a mere 20% capacity.

Managers of Hluhluwe accommodation establishments are concerned the drought, poaching, crime and the economy are reasons for the major decline in tourists to the area.