KZN Drakensburg and Midlands resorts fight for survival

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KZN tourism resorts in the Midlands and the Drakensberg are fighting to bring tourism back to its former glory after suffering a devastating blow due to the recent COVID-19 Lockdown restrictions.   

These popular tourism destinations did not escape the pandemic that lead to a loss of revenue but when the beaches were closed during the festive season, the area welcomed holidaymakers from Gauteng and the coast.

According to Tourism KZN’s latest Tourism Performance Report for the fourth quarter of 2020 overall hotel occupancy rates are gradually on the increase in the province. The report showed that December’s occupancy rate of 51,9% was the second highest in the country for the month and the best in the province since February 2020.

KZN Tourism resorts struggling

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However, Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa chairman Brett Tungay said the local tourism industry in the province was still struggling. He said group hotels were especially batting with the loss of corporate business which had dried up during lockdown.

“Group hotels are averaging occupancy of 10 to 12 percent in January and just over 30% in February,” Tungay said.

“The Drakensburg is a little bit different and we tend to be breaking the mould because we are not a corporate destination but more in the leisure market.”

He said trading was down 30% at his own resort compared to last year.

“We have been urging TKZN and the municipalities to increase their marketing budget to market us as a domestic market. We need to get the domestic market to travel,” Tungay said.

Tungay said KZN tourism resorts were faced with the conundrum of offering guest discounts although they desperately needed to maximise their revenue to recover some of their losses. 

“Our normal booking horizon is normally three to six weeks and at the moment we are seeing booking horizons of one to four days,” Tungay said.

He said the reason for this was probably because guests were wanting to “wait and see” what happened regarding the pandemic and the lockdown before planning their holidays.

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