The Easter season in KwaZulu-Natal is expected to rake in a whopping R1 billion into the provincial economy, with an estimated 250, 000 domestic and 60, 000 international visitors anticipated to descend into the province.
With the school holidays a few weeks separating Easter weekend, Freedom Day and May Day, travellers are responding positively to vacationing in KZN, according to research provided by South African Tourism.
For the Easter weekend, starting April 19 to April 22, Durban Tourism is projecting 100, 000 visitors, spending their money on entertainment, holiday accommodation, car rental and restaurants, among others.
The Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (FEDHASA) are anticipating a ‘late surge of bookings’ with hotels in the province already slowly filling up. Restaurants and theatres, and retail shopping are also recording positive numbers for the coming days.
As in previous years FEDHASA observed a sudden spike in hotel bookings, while the car rental reservations also increased.
Phindile Makwakwa, acting chief executive officer for Tourism KwaZulu-Natal said, “Going on the rate of bookings we have had for activities and accommodation already, KZN looks set for another bumper season. We’re proud to be part of what is a vibrant, creative and important economic sector for this region,” she said.
Makwakwa said it is all encouraging that holidaymakers have chosen KZN for their next short break or holiday.
“Our tourism trade have displayed quality in their service and a variety of experiences which can be had here in the Zulu Kingdom. We can’t rest on our laurels – and it’s good to see our attractions and businesses looking at opportunities to develop and grow their businesses to meet customer expectations in this globally competitive industry,” he added.
The most popular sector in the tourism market that normally thrives during this period are the beaches and adventure experiences which are always the main drawcards.
Hotels, particularly those along the coast, enjoy high occupancies during this time. The Berg and the Midlands will also have good occupancy during this period, statistics provided by TKZN show.
“We receive a lot of visitors and travellers from our key source markets locally, from KZN and Gauteng, and on the long-haul our expected markets is the United Kingdom, Germany, and United States,’’ Makwakwa added.
Charles Preece, East Coast operational manager for FEDHASA said, “Holidaymakers to tend to book very late. Our hotels are not at 100% occupancy as yet, but we anticipate the last minute bookings. The harsh economic times, rising inflation, petrol prices and toll fees are situations which inhibit travellers.’’
But as the holidays fast approach, FEDHASA anticipated a surge.
During April 2018, Tourism KZN statistics show that more than 429, 174 visited KZN via air and road – 248, 077 air passenger arrivals, 181, 097 road traffic coast bound arrivals. Hoteliers revealed that 63,8 percentage of the hotels were occupied during this time.
Since 2013 the average international arrivals in April was just over 62, 000 visitors. In 2017, April arrivals was just over 67, 000.
Domestically, since 2013, the average number of trips undertaken to and in KZN was just over 392, 000. Religious tourism is also popular during this period because of Good Friday and Easter Monday.
Tourism KZN has identified religious tourism as an important niche market, with anticipated numbers of travelers descending into the province, boosting numbers and the economic impact it would have on the region.
Faith-based travelers travel back to their homes for the religious weekend to be with their families and to pray at their local churches.
Services over Easter are particularly well attended and the various churches are offering several special prayers.
These places of worships, while they were busy during this season, were all very worthwhile tourist venues. And you don’t have to wait until Easter or other religious holidays to visit them either, noted Makwakwa.
This year, faithful worshippers can head to the South Coast for the Ugu Uvukile Gospel event, held since 2012. Featuring top Gospel acts with motivational speakers and pastors.
You can further take an amazingly interesting tour of the many mission stations dotted about the province, most being off-shoots from the lovely Trappist Mariannhill Monastery outside Durban, or the Centocow Mission in Underberg, the Holocaust Centre at the Durban Jewish Club, adjacent Garden of Remembrance are good choices to add to your itinerary.
At any time, you can even take a quiet moment at the Buddhist Retreat Centre near Ixopo, or tour the lovely Jummah Mosque where you can learn something about the Islamic faith and fascinating architecture.
For a more family orientated activity, visit Ushaka Marine World as they will host Africa’s largest Easter Egg Hunt from April 20 to 21, 2019 from 9am until 2pm.