eThekwini Municipality mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda, says the City of Durban expects to welcome 540,000 visitors over the festive season, representing a R3 billion injection into the city’s gross domestic product.
Kaunda on Wednesday launched the province’s festive season programme at Max’s Lifestyle in Umlazi.
The celebration brought the spirit of Christmas to the township, with performances of well-loved carols by the full KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Thandeka Ndlovu, and a host of other performers.
Kaunda said during this month, the municipality wants to ensure that visitors to the city are able to take in the full, safe and authentic Durban holiday experience, which includes a number of entertainment and leisure nodes.
“We want to enhance the overall visitor experience, and that is among the reasons we are present in Umlazi today. It’s about bringing tourism to the people and spreading the city’s festive season message as widely as possible,” Kaunda said.
On Monday, president Cyril Ramaphosa announced new Covid-19 safety restrictions for the festive season, including, among others, the closing of KwaZulu-Natal beaches and public parks on what are traditionally the busiest days of the season, namely 16, 25, 26 and 31 December 2020, as well as 1, 2 and 3 January 2021.
Among these restricted spots are 12 Durban beaches recently awarded Blue Flag status for the 2020/21 season.
The promenade will remain open for recreational activities and residents can still enjoy other healthy activities along the beach such as jogging, walking, running and yoga. On all other days, all beaches are open between 9am and 6pm with lifeguards on duty.
The hours of the curfew will also be longer, starting at 11pm until 4am, and this includes Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
Non-essential establishments, including restaurants and bars, will also close at 10pm so that staff and patrons can get home on time.
Kaunda said eThekwini Municipality fully supports these measures, “even though we understand and appreciate that this will be a disappointment to those who enjoy visiting our City at this time”.
“We will comply with any directive to balance the needs of the tourism sector with the safety of visitors and Durban residents,” the mayor said.
Kaunda will also this week host a festive luncheon for some of the city’s underprivileged children, treating them to exciting activities at uShaka Marine World.
He will then visit tourism precincts including Umhlanga, Florida Road, Umlazi and Chesterville, to engage with product owners and patrons ahead of the festive season peak.
Tourism Safe Travel Awareness Educational Activations
The mayor also unpacked progress on the implementation of the City’s Covid-19 Economic Recovery Plan, where Re-starting the Tourism Sector is represented as pillar three.
He said eThekwini is coordinating with the Departments of Health, Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs and Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, to ensure the safety of visitors and residents over the holiday.
Durban Tourism will be rolling out Tourism Safe Travel Awareness Educational Activations in various townships.
Kaunda appealed to young people and others to limit or avoid social gatherings and parties, which are the largest source of outbreaks.
He also urged the community to drink responsibly, observe social distancing, and not gather in large groups and to keep celebrations as small as possible.
“Avoid crowded venues and those that are not adequately ventilated. Better yet, get outside and enjoy our beautiful Durban weather. Sanitise your hands and wear your masks properly over the nose and mouth, not the chin,” Kaunda said.