ETHEKWINI NEWS FLASH
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
20 February 2018
 
Executive Committee Decisions
 
ROBUST TOURISM STRATEGY TO ATTRACT VISITORS TO DURBAN
 
While domestic tourism numbers have declined across the country owing to the global economic slump, eThekwini Municipality has a turnaround strategy in place to attract tourists back to the City.
 
The turnaround strategy, tabled in a report at an Executive Committee meeting held today, 20 February, outlined how this would be achieved.
 
This includes the Durban Destination Tourism Promotion Campaign for the period of February to July 2018 as an intervention to the declined visitor numbers.
 
Furthermore, the annual City’s events partnership with various events listed for the 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20 financial years was approved.
 
The report also granted authority to the Deputy City Manager of Economic Development and Planning Phillip Sithole and the Acting Head of Business Support, Tourism and Markets Thulani Nzama to engage with the event organisers for the City’s benefits and rights to leverage and profile the Durban destination promotion campaign.
 
The report also grants authority for City Manager, Sipho Nzuza, to conclude contracts with the various events partners against the partnership investment framework as outlined in a report by Nzuza dated 9 February 2018 in compliance with the Municipal Finance Management Act.
 
The budget implications of the Durban Tourism’s destination promotion campaign is R2.9 million excluding VAT for the next three financial years.
 
Addressing the Executive Committee, Sithole said major tourist cities in South Africa had experienced a decrease in domestic tourists including eThekwini.
 
He said the tabled report clearly outlined the turnaround strategy to promote the City as well as the number of events to be held in coming months.
 
"Domestic tourists’ figures according to SA Tourism have been going down for the past few years. We are waiting for the 2016/17 financial year figures but we don't think there will be any change,” he said.
 
He said it was important for the City to support events, adding that the funding provided for events differed. Importantly, research was conducted for all the major events the City hosted, looking at the cities the visitors came from and their spending in the City.
 
“A report on this information is compiled by an independent reputable international company. Also, if the City did not fund events the situation would be worse,” Sithole said.
 
He reiterated that a number of popular tourist cities in South Africa were affected by the decrease in tourism numbers as a result of a range of factors.
 
“One of these factors is that the black middle class have more disposable income and more options about where to go on holiday. They may come to Durban for three days before going elsewhere for the remainder of their holiday. Another factor is that Durban is also not the cheap holiday destination it once was. A hotel room on the beachfront in Durban during the festive season cost around R6 000 a night.”
Sithole added that the issue was rather complex but Durban Tourism was thankful that Council has approved a line-up of events to be held in the City for the next three years.
 
“This approval will allow us to market the City and these events in advance. The tabled report is about intensifying the tourism campaign,” he added.
 
EThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede welcomed the report saying that eThekwini Municipality was a transparent City which was why the numbers of visitors to the City was included in the report.
 
“When there are challenges we face them head on which is what we are doing about attracting domestic tourists.”
 
She said hosting events in the City ensured visitors would be coming to the City and hotels would be full.
 
“The Essence Festival is a good example of this. I was contacted by a senior manager of Tsogo Sun who praised the Festival. He said they wanted the Festival back as it ensured their hotels were full in eThekwini as well as in Gauteng. The Essence Festival saw people from South Africa, Africa and abroad come together to empower and educate each other.”
 
She dismissed claims that the Moses Mabhida Stadium, a prime tourist attraction, was in a dilapidated state saying “the stadium is in a good condition”.
 
Mayor Gumede encouraged residents to continue being hospitable to visitors to ensure they returned to the City.
 
Chairperson of the Economic Development and Planning Committee Councillor Sipho Kaunda said a number of events would be held in the City as well as at the Moses Mabhida Stadium such as the Comrades Marathon which would be part of the event.
 
He said the stadium will be exposed to people who may not have visited it before as a result.
 
“There are other programmes such as cycling events that will attract people to eThekwini from outside the province.”
 
When Durban launched its Visitor Strategy in 2013, it intended to position Durban as the gateway to Africa and attract more tourists in the City. The aim of the strategy was to attract five million tourists annually to the City and to inject approximately R10 billion into the economy while supporting 74 000 jobs.
 
Although tourism is one of the sectors that is experiencing challenges due to economic constrains globally, Durban has made its mark in the global tourism competitive arena and has received awards and accolades from many leading publications and authorities.
 
Despite the recent decline, the tourism sector remains one of the key sectors for the City which is a hub of international events.
 
Late last year eThekwini Municipality launched a new marketing campaign called DISCOVER DURBAN that will be at the forefront of the global and domestic marketing of the City. The campaign encapsulates the unique attributes of what makes Durban attractive, identifying new routes and addressing the constant demands of the new traveller to the City.
 
EThekwini Municipality will continue to use existing strategic partnerships and tourism to ensure that Durban becomes a global tourism player using local tourism attractions which are rich in history to enhance the overall visitor experience.
 
CITY TO TACKLE USED SYRINGES FOUND ON BEACHFRONT
 
EThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede was adamant that the City would investigate used needles discarded on the Durban beachfront by drug addicts as it posed a serious health and safety risk to the public.
 
She was speaking at an Executive Committee meeting held today, 20 February, where a report from the Security and Emergency Services Committee was tabled.
 
The report contained details of a presentation given to the Security and Emergency Services Committee by company TBHIV Care who were supplying syringes to youth to prevent the spread of HIV by youth who shared syringes while taking drugs.
 
To address the issue, chairperson of the Security and Emergency Services Committee Deputy Mayor Fawzia Peer in liaison with the chairperson of the Community Services Committee Councillor Zama Sokhabase will convene a meeting with the relevant national and provincial health departments to discuss the memorandum of agreement between the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health and TBHIV Care in an effort to address the supply of syringes to members of the public without properly restricted disposal.

The report also requests the City’s Legal Compliance Unit to provide an opinion on the legality of supplying the syringes with needles to communities without ensuring a proper, restricted disposal process by the project owner.

Elaborating on the issue, Councillor Peer said officials have started to find a lot of discarded, used syringes on the beachfront which had to be cordoned off for safety reasons.

She said the syringes had been used to take drugs.
“An investigation was launched and it was discovered that a company operating in Durban has been supplying syringes to the public who requested it, as a way to stop the sharing of syringes. However, there are no control measures in place regarding disposal,” she added.
Councillor Peer also said it has not been controlled or monitored well.

“They are using the syringes and leaving it on the ground. However, this company has a memorandum of agreement with the national and provincial departments of health to supply syringes. While this is done in first world countries it is monitored well and disposed of properly which is not being done here,” she said.

She added that it was a serious concern and a societal problem with youngsters being given leeway to do drugs. Speaker William Mapena said it cannot be allowed where syringes used for drugs are not properly disposed of. “As Council we have to be concerned as this is a matter of great sensitivity.”

Councillor Sokhabase supported a call for affected youth, who may be using drugs, to be reunited with their families as a matter of urgency.

She said that further investigations into the company supplying syringes had to be done.

Chairperson of the Governance and Human Resources Committee Councillor Barbara Fortein said discarded used syringes posed a serious health risk to the public.

She said while they understood the syringes were being distributed to stop the spread of HIV, it was not being controlled or managed well. Further, she said, the pros and cons of distributing these syringes had to be weighed.

EThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede said it was the first time she was hearing about this issue and tasked City officials to urgently address it.
She said while the matter was being investigated, the distribution of syringes to drug addicts must stop.

“We cannot allow children to take drugs freely. We need more information but we cannot allow this as the City.”

She said steps to be taken moving forward include further looking into the company as well as Councillor Peer and Councillor Sokhabase meeting with national and provincial health officials.

“We need to prioritise safety in our City. If this continues it needs to be done in a safe and controlled manner. Syringes in hospitals are placed in containers and then disposed of correctly. I want a proper report of this issue at the next Executive Committee meeting,” Mayor Gumede added.

ENDS

Issued by eThekwini Municipality’s Head of Communications, Tozi Mthethwa.
Please read this confidentiality disclaimer: http://www.durban.gov.za/Pages/edisclaimer.aspx