First survey for Ilembe Tourism

Zinhle Mkhwanazi and Philile Ncube

With tourism being one of the fastest growing sectors in Ilembe, the district attracted about 421 000 visitors in six months alone.

The sector, according to the 2017 biannual Ilembe Business Confidence Index report, is the only one that showed indications of growth and a recent survey conducted by consultants Grant Thornton showed the tourism industry has lead to the creation of almost 3 000 jobs and brought in a cash flow of about R874 million.

The survey was the first to be conducted by Ilembe Enterprise since the agency opened its doors eight years ago.

This is despite the fact that the North Coast relies heavily on tourism for local economic growth.

It was presented to the public last Thursday at the Ilembe Enterprise Tourism Development Workshop held in KwaDukuza.

Norma Hlongwa from Maphumulo Municipality.

Ilembe enterprise CEO Nathi Nkomzwayo said this was because they had not had the money to do research earlier.

“Ilembe district (besides eThekweni) is the only municipality to be conducting such research at a local level, which can be very expensive and unfortunately, budgets did not allow for this to be done sooner.

“We relied on Tourism KZN to assist us in the past. The development of a tourism strategy highlighted the need for our own local research,” he said.

The survey showed areas that fall under KwaDukuza and Mandeni municipality were a hot spot for tourists in the Ilembe district. This is mostly because they are on the coastal side of the district and are more developed compared to Maphumulo and Ndwedwe.

Nkomzwayo said Ilembe Enterprise wants to see tourism numbers increase from the current 60 percent to at least 80 percent a year. Their goal is to see out of season numbers increase and to develop non-coastal areas like Maphumulo and Ndwedwe.

However, DA caucus leader Madhun Sing said the survey should be an ongoing project that is to be used to guide future development. A budget for such things should be given priority.

“It is a poor reflection on Ilembe Enterprise. Surveys should be an on-going project. Its an indicator to better understand the tourism trends, analyse them, improve on them and this all guides our future development. Tourism is an economic driver especially taking into consideration the low economic growth.

“Surveys updated regularly will help to plan, co-ordinate and implement gaps through the analysis process.

“For example, are we observing an increase or decrease in foreign visitors the same with local visitors?

“We need to fix them while there could be constraints like infrastructure, municipal services, crime, marketing and other factors that negatively impact on the tourism sector.”

Inus Van Schalkwyk of Cyberview Letting in Ballito welcomed the survey, but thought it long overdue. However, he believes that tourism is doing well in the district.

Sipho Ngubane from Maphumulo.

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  AUTHOR
Sboniso Dlamini
Journalist

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