Durban - The Hilton Durban officially opened for business yesterday, and general manager Vikram Jamwal said they were hoping for a positive outlook in the months ahead.
Jamwal said the hotel staff were happy and excited to be open after a nearly six-month break.
He said while it was premature at this stage to say that business was looking up, they had received a lot of positive feedback from their customers.
“Our regular guests are really looking forward to coming back, which has been noticed since last week, and more guests are booking into our hotel,” Jamwal said.
He added that they were hopeful and optimistic that things would go smoothly and that guests would continue to return.
Jamwal said that Hilton Durban was already seeing a positive upward trend for the festive season in December.
“Even next week for the Heritage Day holiday, there is a surge in demand.
“These are all green shoots that are giving us a positive outlook,” said Jamwal.
He said that the Hilton CleanStay and EventReady programmes ensured the safety and cleanliness of guest rooms and that social distancing and safety precautions amid the Covid-19 pandemic were in place.
“We really want our guests to come and enjoy our relentless hospitality while we take care of safety and cleanliness, and at the same time ensure our team is well protected,” he said.
Federated Hospitality Association of SA KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Brett Tungay said the current perception was that normal business would only be seen in the next six to 12 months in the tourism industry.
He said they had not seen the expected rush of visitors following months of lockdown.
Tungay said he believed that many people were taking huge financial strain and did not have money for leisure travel.
He added that since the start of level 2, 40% to 50% of the hotel industry’s normal business had returned.
“Quite a few properties are only opening up now before the long weekend, and those which have already opened, who I’ve spoken to, are probably going to do 70% of last year’s turnover for September,” said Tungay.
He said that it would help many hotels once restrictions regarding the number of rooms available were lifted under level 1.
He said many leisure businesses would not see normal occupancy until the international borders were reopened.
KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Nomusa Dube-Ncube said Durban, like all other cities, had been hugely affected by the lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.
She added that she would be engaging with the municipal leadership in the coming days to map out a tourism recovery plan.
She said the resumption of domestic flights was helping to reignite the tourism economy.
“Since we moved to level 2, KZN’s tourism prospects are looking good and we are starting to see tourists from other provinces travelling to our shores,” said Dube-Ncube.
The MEC said the department recognised that tourism was an important pillar of KZN’s economy.
“As we celebrate this year’s World Tourism Day on September 27 this month under the ‘new normal’, we dip our banners and celebrate those men and women who continue to fly our flag as Brand South Africa high,” she said.