ILEMBE-NORTH COAST READY TO WELCOME FESTIVE SEASON VISITORS TO BLUE FLAG BEACHES

With travel back in a big way, the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast with Blue Flag beaches, is confident its tourism and hospitality numbers will outpace even pre-pandemic levels.

Travel and tourism within Destination North Coast under the patronage of Enterprise iLembe is poised to bounce back after surviving the most challenging two years since the onslaught of COVID-19.

Impact tourism – a growing trend where travellers to prioritise destinations and activities focused on environmental sustainability and local community investment – is expected to see the pounds, dollars and rands rolling into the holiday towns such as Zimbali, Ballito, Salt Rock, Umhlali, Tinley Manor and Zinkwazi, Linda Mncube, Chief Executive Officer of Enterprise iLembe Economic Development Agency, said the KZN North Coast is open for business and ready to welcome visitors – and their wallets – to the region which is one large playground to relax and unwind.

“The KZN North Coast offers five-star accommodation, top-notch leisure attractions and activity sites with breath-taking views, and first-class fine dining venues. “There has been some consternation about the state of beaches in KZN. However, beaches along the KZN North Coast are swimming safe and open for all to enjoy and to view Bottlenose Dolphins frolicking in the waters close to shore.

“Daily tests are carried out to ensure the water is safe for all visitors. In fact, just this week two of the most popular beaches in Ballito, Thompson Bay and Willard, were awarded Blue Flag status for excellence in safety, amenities, cleanliness and environmental standards,” he said.

Mncube added that tourism is one of the key drivers of the iLembe local economy, as the industry supports in excess of 7 000 jobs. The more visitors coming into the area will translate into an increased number of livelihoods being sustained by this sector. “From January to June 2022 in terms of the economic impact, tourism contributed about R1.7 billion to the GDP of the iLembe region. “All establishments are open and ready to welcome visitors. The occupancy rate along the KZN North Coast is sitting at 70% so I encourage visitors to book in advance to avoid any disappointment,” he said.

Cheryl Peters, Tourism, Marketing, Investment and Promotion Manager at Enterprise. iLembe said visitors can explore various adventure activities including microlight flights, horse riding, zip lining, quad biking and so much more. “There is also the Chief Albert Luthuli Museum and King Shaka visitors’ centre. Walk on a trail through the Harold Johnson Nature Reserve or visit historic battle sites such as the Ultimatum Tree, Ndondakusuka or Fort Pearson.“Hit some balls at one of four magnificent golf courses, visit the crocodile and animal farms, historical sites, nurseries, cultural villages, or simply soak up the sun on the golden beaches. There is just so much to do.

“In terms of cuisine, there is such a wide variety from Greek to Portuguese, seafood, Italian, Indian, and not forgetting traditional Shisanyama,” she said. Peters urged visitors to please verify and check that establishments do exist prior to making payments for accommodation, especially when they come across deals online that look too good to be true.

Nelson Rodrigues, General Manager at The Capital Zimbali in Ballito, north of Durban, said the hotel is waiting to welcome 80% of local and provincial visitors this festive season. Chantel Venter, Manager at Adventure Valley in Ballito said they are gearing up for a busy holiday season and looking forward to seeing old and new clients explore some adventure.

“Bookings are looking positive at the moment as it is known that the North Coast is the place to be as it offers a high standard of hospitality and quality experiences from accommodation to adventure and attractions.

“At Adventure Valley the main activity on offer for the holiday season is the 1.5km zipline tour with the first-in-the-world “Parazip” offering an adventure for the entire family.

“We also expecting a lot of day visitors spending quality time at Adventure Valley. We are excited for the holiday season and to bring smiles and adventure to the lives of those visiting us. We look forward to seeing all visitors soon,” she said.

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