As Tourism Month comes to an end, we reflect on the spectacular tourist attractions that KwaZulu-Natal has to offer international tourists, as well as local residents. Over the years international tourists – especially those from the northern hemisphere wanting to escape their cold winter – would seek out tourist hot-spots across our province. Tourism role players across the board, from large hotel groups, to small B&Bs, SMMEs and informal traders, all benefitted in some way.
The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), as the Official Opposition in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature, is sceptical about the tourist season as we approach the end of the year. Whilst the monetary exchange rates make South Africa a very affordable destination, there are many negative factors that will deter international tourists.
Any tourist would like to have peace of mind around issues such as their safety. The high levels of reported criminal activity, especially those incidents where tourists have been attacked, will certainly deter anybody who would want to holiday in KZN. For decades, the KZN beaches have been a major tourist attraction but recently the water quality has come into question, with high levels of Escherichia coli (E coli), which makes swimming a health risk. Loadshedding and an uncertain clean water supply will also make prospective tourists think twice before deciding to holiday in KZN.
The IFP believes that all these negative factors undermining tourism in KZN must be placed on the doorstep of the ruling party. Those in positions of power sat back and watched while the tourism sector was being destroyed. While the KZN Tourism Authority has been working hard to promote tourism into our province, the negative forces mentioned above have worked against its efforts. Attracting international tourists also hinges on having international airlines landing at King Shaka International Airport. Tourists would like to be able to move into and out of the province quickly and it would therefore be advantageous to have more international carriers flying into KZN.
If the government of the day is serious about boosting tourism – and thereby creating job opportunities within the sector – it urgently needs to address and eliminate factors that negatively impact tourism in KZN.
Mr Les Govender MPL
IFP KZN Provincial Spokesperson Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs
083 974 4894