North Coast tourism on back foot

Ilembe mayor Sduduzo Gumede.

Government and businesses are working hand in hand to improve confidence and boost tourism on the North Coast.

District mayors, municipal managers, Enterprise Ilembe, the Ilembe Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Tourism as well as the district house of traditional leaders formed a committee that is aimed at turning around investor confidence, tackling unemployment and boosting tourism.

This comes after the Ilembe business confidence index showed a record low of 39.2 in a biannual survey conducted in January.

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Tourism, which has usually been the leading business sector showed a 15.2 percent drop in comparison to last years mid-year level. In the past three years, the sector has grown by only nine percent in the district.

Ilembe mayor Sduduzo Gumede said government could not isolate themselves from businesses to achieve growth.

“Poverty, unemployment and equality are issues that cannot be addressed by government alone without the direct involvement of business. Our role is to create and enable an environment for business.”

Local government and businesses agree that the district has a good foundation for growth and that the district’s history could benefit tourism.

Ilembe Chamber of Industry and Commerce CEO Cobus Oelofse said some negative sentiments that affected tourism included the management of public spaces, a disregard for municipal bylaws and anti-social behaviour.

Enterprise Ilembe CEO Nati Nkomzwayo.

“The N2 rock throwing incidents and resulting tragedies were also mentioned as concerns that need to be addressed.”

With all four municipalities in Ilembe (KwaDukuza, Ndedwe, Maphumulo and Mandeni) scoring well below the 50 index mark, the business confidence survey suggested that the district was not conducive for business, with some comments that KwaDukuza was dirty and planned property development was hindered by the lack of service delivery and infrastructure.

However, recent research conducted by Enterprise Ilembe and Grant Thornton shows that the Ballito Junction Regional Mall and the Lifestyle Centre may be a saving grace for tourism in the district.

According to Enterprise Ilembe CEO Nati Nkomzwayo, the number of day visitors to the North Coast is a growing source of tourism revenue.

“Shopping and eating at local restaurants have proven to be popular activities for visitors to the area. We also welcome the tourists visiting heritage and natural attractions in our region.”

Tourism contributed R3 billion to Ilembe district GDP, attracting more than 800 000 visitors between March 2017 and February 2018.

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  AUTHOR
Erica Abrahams
Journalist

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