TV and radio presenter Unathi Nkayi dropped int o the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands for a visit recently to experience the beauty and some of the highlights of the region on a whirlwind tour.
Unathi was a guest of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, which is on an aggressive marketing drive to boost visitor numbers and the Midlands’ recovery in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The entity is determined to do all it can to highlight what the province has to offer. The week before TKZN had focused on the North Coast’s Dolphin Coast area.
According to Marian Evans, general manager of the Midlands Meander Association, tourism visitor numbers are growing considerably since restrictions have been eased.
Bookings picking up
“We do have quiet periods, but visitor numbers have increased, particularly over the weekends, and midweek bookings are picking up. When the beaches were closed, the area welcomed holidaymakers from Gauteng. We owe this to the domestic campaign we undertake throughout the year.”
While restrictions, particularly in the hard lockdown during the first wave of the virus, had a devastating effect on Midlands tourism, there had not been as many businesses closing down as one would have expected, said Marian.
Hospitality has remained resilient and while there have been some unfortunate closures, there have been promising signs and many of the bigger operators and venues, who employ large numbers, have stayed in business.
According to TKZN’s Tourism Performance Report, KZN’s December hotel occupancy rates were among the highest in the country – and the best since February last year. This is revealed in the statistics of the report for the last quarter of 2020. It suggests that from October to December 2020, the hotel occupancy in KZN improved steadily.
Positive and steady
KZN’s hotel occupancy rate was 56% in January 2020, increasing to 64.9% in February 2020. Then, just as figures dropped elsewhere across the country, they fell to a low of 12.2% in May.
They climbed to 21.6% in June before yo-yoing to 14.9% in July.
After that, there was a welcoming climb every month, until figures topped 51.90% occupancy in December, second only to the North West region, which shot up to 59.70%.
More Meander Chronicle news here
In the Midlands, businesses have reported a positive and steady growth in visitor numbers.
Unathi and the team last week visited the Nelson Mandela Capture Site and Museum near Howick; enjoyed a hot-air balloon ride launched from Granny Mouse Country House; visited Yellowwood Action Combat Paintball Centre; took a joyride at Karkloof Canopy Tours; and met some talented Midlands artists.
KZN Midlands a coffee lover’s dream
Visit www.zulu.org.za for holiday deals and packages.