TOURISM KWAZULU NATAL PROMOTES “Jab4Tourism” DURING THE FESTIVE SEASON
As thousands of holidaymakers descend on KZN this festive season, Tourism KwaZulu-Natal is encouraging holidaymakers and the tourism sector at large to Jab4Tourism.
The JabforTourism call comes amidst South Africa’s new battle with the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic after the discovery of the Omicron variant.
Tourism KZN’s message “KZN Is Safe for Travel, ZWAKALA!” is advocacy to push the message of responsible and safe tourism. Working closely with various stakeholders including the KZN Department of Health, the campaign encourages and promotes the importance of getting vaccinated. Supporting this campaign is the #Jab4Tourism drive which is focused on frontline tourism and hospitality staff to increase the province’s vaccination numbers and to save jobs in the sector. The campaign commences on Thursday, 16th December and will be activated throughout the province at strategic locations.
The main goal is to ensure that holidaymakers feel safe when visiting the province and to continue to keep the tourism sector open and the reality is that vaccination plays a huge role in the sector’s recovery. The province projects that the tourism sector will contribute R1.9 Billion to the GDP of the KZN economy for this festive season, as well as an estimated 820 495 domestic tourists that will visit KZN.
Tourism KZN projects that the occupancy rates across the province will go as high as 60 % during this season. More numbers are expected from local day travellers who will likely opt for staycations and explore local tourist attractions.
Emphasising the importance of the vaccination drive ahead of the festive season, Acting Chief Executive Officer Phindile Makwakwa said, “The festive season has a major economic impact on the tourism sector, and we would like to assure holidaymakers of their safety while in the province. We continue working closely with our tourism trade partners to ensure that the sector adheres to the health and safety protocols. We call upon our visitors to get vaccinated so all holidaymakers may safely enjoy the province’s tourist attractions, products, and services. Similarly, we encourage all those working in the tourism value chain to Jab4Tourism, which in turn will ensure the sustainability of the tourism economy and save jobs.
Marion Evans, the spokesperson for Midlands Meander Association, says that they expect to reach full (100%) capacity in the KZN Midlands region this festive season, which is imperative for survival. “We have always been a favourite for families looking for a place to relax and reconnect after a busy year, and we are hoping that the staycation trend will work in our favour as more people will likely choose the serene nature of our region for both holidaying as well as keeping away from big crowds and gatherings.”
The tourism trade in Northern KwaZulu-Natal is also upbeat despite the current climate brought about by the discovery of Omicron and have made significant strides in their vaccination drive.
Brian Manyoni, General Manager from Jozini Tiger Lodge and Spa, said, “Currently, we have 80% of staff vaccinated; we work closely with the Department of Health to ensure we run onsite vaccinations for staff. Our goal is to get to 100% vaccination during the festive season.”
“Occupancy rates are currently sitting at 60%, and we are confident that this will increase within the coming week. As part of our safety measures and protocols, we ensure that we fumigate our rooms once a week as well as adhere to strict dining capacity at 50% inside and 50% outside as this allows for social distancing and adequate ventilation,” added Manyoni with enthusiasm.
Head of Tourism and Investment Promotions at Enterprise Ilembe Development Agency, Cheryl Peters, confirmed that most of the establishments in their region had not had a notable number of cancellations, “We have not seen any cancellations from the domestic market. The ban on international travel has not directly impacted our district as this is not usually the season that we see international visitors. As a district, we are ready to welcome our holidaymakers and can confidently assure travellers that all our tourism products are covid19 complaint.”
“After two years of covid restrictions, The South African Tourism industry and Hospitality sector has been the hardest hit sector in the South African economy in terms of both business closures and job losses over this period. As FEDHASA, we are imploring the government to be realistic about the latest omicron variant making its rounds throughout the country. We acknowledge that the infection rate is increasing rapidly and is highly contagious; however, we see that both hospitalization and mortality rates with this new variant are extremely low. In reality, we are saying that the sensible thing to do is for the current level 1 to remain in place in order for the sector to recover during this festive period, said Brett Tungay, FEDHASA East Coast Chair.
Those who haven’t finalized their summer season holiday plans are encouraged to visit http://www.zulu.org.za/dokzn/specials and conclude their plans before it is too late.
The first phase of the KZN IS SAFE FOR TRAVEL campaign commences on the 16th December and concludes on the 30th December 2021. Activations and pop up vaccinations will be held at the following locations: