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Durban Tourism Newsletter ISSUE#2

Durban Tourism Newsletter ISSUE#2

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Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda 

Halfway through the month of May, we had fruitful engagements with the Captains of Industry within the City of Durban where we unpacked the City’s Economic Relief and Recovery Plan
in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is now common cause that in extraordinarily challenging times like these, collaboration amongst various social partners is a prerequisite for any hope of successfully navigating the treacherous waters in which we find ourselves. No single social partner, be it business; government;
labour or civil society, can strike out on their own and hope to address
the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact.
On 18 May 2020 we came together as social partners to unpack the meaning of the City’s Economic Relief and Recovery Plan.  We also shared ideas on what we could do, individually and collectively, to fine-tune the plan and implement it.
As a City we gained useful insights from our social partners and we were highly encouraged
by the positive manner in which our stakeholders engaged with the plan, including suggesting innovative ideas.The devastation wreaked by COVID-19 in our society is enormous. 

We estimate that since COVID-19:
About 327 000 people lost their income or employment;
Unemployment will rise to 42%;
About R10 billion of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has been put on hold and another R8.5bn is at risk;
A deep contraction in economy is expected; and
While 32% of eThekwini’s economy has returned in stage 4, it will take some 18 months to get back to pre-lockdown levels and that, sadly, many businesses will close.

We believe our various interventions will help ameliorate the impact of this pandemic.
On the tourism front, which is one of the biggest employers in our City, we have re-categorised municipal rates for tourism B&Bs and Guesthouses from commercial rates to residential rates. We have also instructed our Treasury to enter into arrangements with affected establishments to defer the payment of rates without incurring interest on outstanding rates for a period of up to six months. We are also linking affected businesses with the various national and provincial funds aimed at assisting tourism businesses.
On the events front, we have taken the decision to postpone – albeit some have been cancelled – those events for which we had sponsorship agreements.  
We have also trained our sights on rural and township tourism, which is mainly led by emerging entrepreneurs for assistance. In this regard, we have doubled the allocation to Community Tourism Organisations (CTOs), from R250 000 to R500 000.
Notwithstanding these interventions, the situation is still challenging and requires all of us to put our collective proverbial shoulder to the wheel and rebuild the tourism sector.  
On level 4, we saw the start of economic activities such as restaurant deliveries. As we enter Level 3 of the Lockdown, we urge those tourism businesses permitted by regulations to operate, to adhere strictly to the regulations in order to avoid regression back to Level 4.  These are unchartered waters for all of us, but we urge all tourism stakeholders to act in unison towards a swift recovery of this important sector.
To those who miss Durban, we want to assure that when the Lockdown is over, we shall have in store for you a Durban that is warm and welcoming as well as creating unforgettable memories for you for many years to come.    
In a bid to keep the Durban destination top-of-mind for tourists as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, Durban Tourism has launched the ground-breaking
“Virtual Know Your Durban Campaign” which started at the beginning of June.
The aim of this campaign is to connect with Durbanites and South Africans. It also provides an opportunity for the world at large to re-discover the Durban destination and virtually re-connect with the City in anticipation to what they can explore live when leisure travel is permitted. 
The “Virtual Know Your Durban” campaign will showcase attractions, experiences and tourist activities which, over the years, have made Durban a destination of choice globally. The campaign will take its digital visitors on a virtual journey of Durban’s hidden gems and this will be activated on various social media platforms of the Durban Tourism and mainstream TV channels.
This campaign focuses on the domestic market particularly on Durbanites because it is our contention that many locals in our City and South Africa are yet to fully experience the offerings of Durban as a tourism destination. Therefore, we believe that the recovery of the sector will, initially, depend on local visitors to the various attractions. This campaign aims to achieve exactly that.
The “Virtual Know Your Durban” campaign is a collaborative effort involving Durban Tourism, product owners and stakeholders in the City’s tourism sector. It is as a direct result of the ongoing engagements between the City and a cross-section of tourism stakeholders which, among others, led to the crafting of the existing Tourism Recovery Plan for the City.
Another component of the Virtual Durban Excursion campaign to be rolled out is the
Durban Influencer Virtual Tour.  This sub-campaign will feature Durban’s foremost entertainers including Zakes Bantwini, DJ Cndo and DJ Sox, to mention but a few. These stars will be proudly taking our visitors on a visit to Durban’s attractions as well as hidden gems, all the while giving commentary on what the attractions have to offer, but still spreading the message as we
grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.
For this sub-campaign, Durban Tourism has partnered with the MTV Base Channel who will follow these artists as they visit different sites. “A critical part of this virtual tour  is the participation of upcoming local artists, who will be paired with established local artists and take part in showcasing their art through virtual  concerts and other activities that will be live streamed in various digital platforms as part of the Virtual Know Your City campaign,” said Sithole. The Durban Influencer Virtual Tour kicked off on the 4th of June.
We invite all our clients to join us on the excursion as we explore Durban on the hashtags of: #KnowYourDurban; #MyDurban; #AmazingDurban; #DurbanHasMore #RediscoverDurban #ThisisDurban
Horse racing fans can take heart that the 2020 Vodacom Durban July will take place this year,
but as a broadcast-only event without spectators participating from the comfort of their homes.
The City of Durban is proud to be associated with this particular race which is a mainstay of the continent’s entertainment calendar.
Vodacom and Gold Circle have confirmed a joint commitment to run Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event, but under the strictest adherence to all government health protocols around COVID-19.
“Gold Circle, together with the ongoing support of the company’s valued sponsor Vodacom, is fully committed to running the 2020 Vodacom Durban July. Sadly, given the reality of the present circumstances, the race meeting will be staged behind closed doors and without spectators,”
said Gold Circle CEO Michel Nairac.
Durban’s very association with this premium event will profile the destination globally through the use of electronic and digital media.  Initial projections are that the 2020 event will generate at least 50% of the coverage garnered at last year’s event which was held in the open. In fact, it is envisaged that the coverage of the actual race will eclipse last year’s coverage figures by
10% (from approximately R31 million to about R34 million) The projected total coverage value for the 2020 VDJ is about R67 million.
“The VDJ has enjoyed an uninterrupted history since first being run in 1897 – not even two world wars prevented the race from being run – and we are doing everything in our power to ensure that 2020 is not the exception,” he added.
The proposed date for the race is Saturday 25 July, but the extremely fluid nature of the current pandemic means this could change as circumstances so dictate.
Amongst other things, the 2020 VDJ will be a creative stage for the City’s fashion programme (Durban Fashion Fair) and will prompt the reimagination in the staging of different pillars of the VDJ including the various pre and after parties.
 “Any decision we make around the Vodacom Durban July this year will be made as a responsible company committed to the safety of all who are involved. As a sponsor, we will work together with all relevant stakeholders and be guided by the horseracing fraternity and the experts in this industry, as well as in government, as we all work towards making this year’s race a reality,” said Michelle van Eyden, the Executive Head of Sponsorship at Vodacom.
Durban Tourism expects to see more green shoots in the City’s tourism sector as we enter
Level 3 of the Lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While Level 5 had shut down all tourism activities, Level 4 saw some movement in the sector, with people allowed to exercise within stipulated times and restaurants being allowed to deliver orders to households.
Entering Level 3, amongst other things, sees resumption in the sale of alcohol as well as gradually re-introducing air travel for business. Critically, Level 3 allows for restaurants to operate, albeit on a take-away and order and delivery basis.  This means that shisanyama outlets that also sell alcohol as well bottle stores are gradually able to trade. Level 3 also means that residents of our City can now enjoy our beautiful scenery while on their bicycles, hiking and game drives as these are now permitted.
During the Lockdown, the City of Durban has been engaged in an intensive campaign to spruce up the City and make sure that when tourists return to Durban, they experience a clean destination free of crime and grime. Stakeholders in the tourism sector must know the dos and don’ts of the Level 3. For more information on the meaning of Level 3 of the Lockdown,
please visit: www.sacoronavirus.co.za
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that we need to do tourism differently. A rise in the
trend of wellbeing and nature-based tourism activities as people seek a psychological let out after the lockdown is likely to be experienced. Durban, KwaZulu-Natal’s scenic and unique natural beauty icon, together with its warm subtropical climate provides an ideal opportunity to explore nature and is an experience that is unique to the destination.
One such hidden gem is the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve which is situated in Kloof
which falls part of the Western Region of the City.
The Nature reserve, which is currently Managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, contains a wealth of biodiversity with a very high level of endemism and history. The nature reserve’s breath-taking scenery is the result of deep incisions into the ancient Kloof Plateau by Molweni and Nkutu rivers which in turn flow into the Indian Ocean at Blue Lagoon.

Activities that can be enjoyed include:
  • Rock Climbing;
  • Guided and Self-guided walks;
  • Picnic Sites;
  • Educational guides on special plan species, animals and birding;
  • Wellness and Spa Centre’s within the Vicinity;
  • Scenic Waterfall
With the country going onto Level 3 of the lockdown which relaxes economic activity and human movement even further, the tourism sector is slowly re-opening. This is a critical period for the sector because the sector’s response will partly determine whether we move onto Level 2 or we regress to Levels 4 or 5. Key to this determination is how well the sector adheres to the Level 3 restrictions and attendant sector specific protocols.
As the tourism sector, we must ready ourselves for the new normal in our operations that will be brought by the various levels. We must adhere to the protocols for the sector during the lockdown. To find out more about these protocols, go to: www.tbcsa.travel
There is no doubt that the pandemic together with the Lockdown restrictions have adversely affected all economic sectors throughout the world. Whilst California Dreaming has been closed from the end of March, we continue to see how best to assist more than 50 staff members with limited relief measures. We also believe that we are well positioned to revisit our business model and focus on our unique strengths to be part of the Tourism Recovery Plan in the City. Also, providing strength and support to peers in the industry would ensure that our collective efforts would once again position the City as a preferred destination for all visitors.
Mr. Sadha Naidoo-CEO of the Calypso Group and Owner of California Dreaming Restaurant.
On behalf of Hilton Durban, I would like to say that I am proud of the hospitality colleague’s resilience and how you all have confronted this new and challenging reality with strength and compassion. This too shall pass!
Mr. Vikram Jamal-General Manager: Durban Hilton