MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Sihle Zikalala
We are delighted that you have come to join us as we proclaim that, as the province of KwaZulu-Natal, we are ready to give our visitors and tourists an unforgettable 2017 festive season.
While we have chosen to declare our state of readiness here in Durban, we want to state upfront that these plans transcend beyond the boundaries of eThekwini and cover the entire province of KwaZulu-Natal. This is an important qualification to bear in mind because while it is undeniable that Durban – by virtue of status as a beach destination and the largest city in the province – is a major catchment area for tourists, it is in fact complemented by a number of other attractions spread throughout the province.
As many of you are aware, we officially launched the province’s festive season campaign in Ugu District Municiaplity in November this year, when we hosted the KZN is Summer Campaign. Therefore, our outlook is provincial, but we know that tourism cannot succeed outside of partnerships with municipalities, hence our partnership with eThekwini Municipality today.
When we speak of tourist attractions in this province we could not possibly omit to mention our majestic UNESCO certified UKhahlamba-Drakensberg and the iSimangaliso Wetland Parks; the hunting trail of King Shaka at Hluhluwe in the north of the province; the highest swing in Africa, the Oribi Gorge in the south and our more than 120 protected game reserves, including our internationally acclaimed big five game reserves, which are Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park, Mkhuze Game Reserve, Tembe Elephant Park and iThala Game Reserve.
ANTICIPATED TOURIST NUMBERS FOR 2017
Tourism is an important contributor to both job creation and the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Over the past two years, the number of people directly employed by the tourism industry in KwaZulu-Natal was approximately 87 670, whilst the industry’s total contribution to employment was estimated at 200 466 during the same period. In terms of its contribution to GDP, KZN’s total contribution to national GDP (inclusive of both foreign and domestic) in 2015 was R20.4billion.
For the 2017 festive season period, our projections are that we will get more than 600 000 domesticvisitors with and more than R1.25 billion in tourism receipts into the provincial economy. This would be an improvement from 2016 when we recorded about R1.21 billion from domestic tourists. On the international tourist front, we expect some 138 000 visitors who spend on average R773 a day which would translate to R106 billion into the provincial economy.
In this regard, we have continued working with our hospitality sector across the province in the development, packaging, and marketing of tourism products in order to take advantage of the promise of higher than normal tourist arrivals during the festive season. Our success in living up to the target of our Tourism Master Plan which is about increasing tourism figures particularly, among high spending foreign visitors, will hinge on the province’s ability to grow its tourism business contribution to GDP to more than R98 billion by 2020 which would generate around 183 000 jobs.
RESPONSIBLE ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION AND TRADE
Ladies and gentlemen, while we are no doubt keen to attract healthy tourist numbers, we are equally mindful of the need to promote responsible behavior at alltimes.
In this regard, as the Department responsible for, among other competencies, regulating the trade and consumption in liquor as well as promoting responsible consumer behavior, the onus is upon us to ensure that we do not let down our guard, particularly during the festive season which is when people are most prone to adopt a lackadaisical stance to these critically important issues.
To this end, we have instructed the KZN Liquor Authority to take a hardline stance against violations that relate to the trade and consumption of liquor. Non-compliance with any liquor law – be it provincial or national is an offense, and punishable by law. In all of the above instances, we will not hesitate to revoke a trading license and, should the need arise; seek the intervention of the relevant law enforcement authorities to restore order.
We urge you as the media to amplify this message to the public. We must play our parts in reporting non-compliance to liquor inspectors or the police. Our Toll-Free Helpline is on 087 232 2333.
MESSAGE FROM KZN EZEMVELO TO TOURISTS
Ladies and gentlemen, it is our experience that international tourists, in particular, tend to gravitate more towards the safari experience and might visit our earlier mentioned game parks. In this regard, we have a total of 32 accomodation establishments that are under the custodianship of KZN Ezemvelo and these include Tendele, Giant’s Castle, Didima, Sodwana, St Lucia, Hilltop, Ndumo, Mount Currie, to name but a few.
Most of these resorts, inclusive of our campsites, will be at 90% full until around the second week of January. This means that there is still limited space for those who want to visit our establishments and we urge them to move quickly in order to avoid disappointment. Further, we appeal to visitors to our province who might have booked outside our game reserves to still visit them as day-visitors. This is the most affordable approach to witness the big five found in reserves like Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park, Mkhuze and Tembe Elephant Park.
In preparation for the huge numbers of visitors to our park, Ezemvelo has strengthened its security system at the gates and added security personnel that will patrol inside our resorts. Ezemvelo has also strengthened its manpower by recruiting close to 18 additional Security Personnel who will be deployed in our 10 rhino reserves and, in partnership with the Department of Environmental Affairs at national level, we have appointed 412 Environmental Monitors who have been deployed in 23 Ezemvelo Protected Areas.
We are pleased that the challenges that we faced last year as a result of drought have been addressed. Ezemvelo bought two mobile water tanks that can be deployed to any resort in the event that water related challenge rises. Boreholes have been done to further prepare for future water crisis.
Ladies and gentlemen, our world-class beaches give us both competitive and comparative advantages as a tourism destination. Therefore, bather safety is of critical importance if we are to maintain our status as a destination of choice, particularly for visitors from inland provinces. The KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board is key in ensuring bather safety and they have assured us that they will pay extra attention when changing the shark nets and are going to add more shifts to ensure that visitors are safe. Further, they will intensify their programme in cleaning up our beaches in order to ensure bather safety and uphold the quality of our beaches.
CONSUMER AWARENESS AND CONCLUSION
As we conclude, ladies and gentlemen, we would also like to relay a few cautionary messages both to locals and tourists alike. While we appreciate the levels of excitement concomitant with the festive season, we would nonetheless urge our people to guard against being overwhelmed by grossly exaggerated festive season ‘sales’.
Let us practice restraint and sober-mindedness at all times! In this regard, in the comings days, starting from the 6th of December we have organised a series of outreach programmes under the Spend Wisely Campaign where we will be educating our communities about the need to be frugal with money.
It is alarming to note that close to 11 million South Africans are living on credit and are heavily indebted. This is as a direct result of, among other things, South Africans living beyond their means; failing to save as well reckless lending by finacial service providers. As government, we will come down hard, through compliance and enforcement, on all those service providers who delve in reckless lending in contravention of the National Credit Act as well as the Consumer Protection Act.
We urge all stakeholders, including consumers and service providers, to comply with the legislation and be responsible during this festive season.
Additionally, on the 15th of December we will also have a programme to officially welcome tourists coming into KwaZulu-Natal at the Escort Shell Ultra City. In both these instances, we welcome the media to be a part of the proceedings and help us spread the message that KZN is indeed the place to be this festive season.
Ladies and gentlemen, we would like to reassure you that KZN is ready to deliver a memorable and safe festive season to all the visitors that we will be hosting this festive season. For us this is always a season to highlight all the work that we have done throughout the year in promoting the province as THE must-visit destination.
We also want to remind our visitors to follow us on social media and to post their best images enjoying some activities in KZN with the hast tag DoKZN on all our social networks, Facebook (KZNTourism), Instagram (@tourismkzn_official), Twitter (@Tourism KZN), YouTube (KwaZulu-Natal Tourism Authority) and Pintrest (KZN Tourism) over the festive season
I thank you