Attention: Editors/Lifestyle Editors
This weekend television and radio presenter Unathi Nkayi dropped into the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands for a visit as guests of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal who are on an aggressive marketing drive to boost visitor numbers in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The entity is determined to do all it can to highlight what the province has to offer. Last week TKZN focused on the North Coast Dolphin Coast region.
According to Marian Evans, general manager of Midlands Meander Association, tourism visitor numbers are growing considerably since restrictions have been lifted.
“We do have quiet periods but visitor numbers have increased particularly over the weekends, and midweek bookings are picking up. When the beaches were closed, the area welcomed holidaymakers from Gauteng. We owe this to the domestic campaign we undertake throughout the year.”
While restrictions had a devastating effect on Midlands tourism there had not been as many businesses closing down as one would have expected, she said.
For interviews contact Marian Evans on 0826084668
According to TKZN’s Tourism Performance Report, KZN’s December hotel occupancy rates were among the highest in the country-and the best since February last year.
This is revealed in the statistics of Tourism KZN’s Tourism Performance Report for the last quarter of 2020.
The report suggests that during the months from October to December 2020, the hotel occupancy in KZN had improved steadily.
KZN’s hotel occupancy rate was 56% in January, increasing to 64,9% in February 2020. Then, just as figures dropped elsewhere across the country, they fell to a low of 12,2% in May.
They climbed to 21,6% in June before yo-yoing to 14,9% in July.
After that, there was a welcoming climb every month until figures topped 51,90% occupancy in December, second only to the North West region which had also shot up to 59,70%.
In the Midlands our businesses have reported a positive and steady growth in visitor numbers.
Please find short captions for pictures accompanying this brief
A trip down memory lane: Idols judge and radio and television presenter Unathi Nkayi had her breadth taken away at the Nelson Mandela capture site near Howick-now reopened under reduced operating hours- when she visited the museum for the first time yesterday. Nkayi, is on a whirlwind tour of the region with Tourism KwaZulu-Natal. The Natal Midlands and the Drakensberg tourism sector is resilient and is fighting to bring back tourism to its former glory after suffering a devastating blow from the COVID-19 restrictions, resulting in the loss of visitors. The region has not escaped the pandemic but when the beaches were closed, the area welcomed holidaymakers from Gauteng and the coast when the beaches closed during the festive season. Overall, hotel occupancy rates in KZN are gradually on the increase, according to the latest statistics from TKZN’s Tourism Performance Report for the fourth quarter of 2020, the repeat reveals that December’s occupancy rate of 51,9% was the second highest in the country for the month-and the best in the province since February that year. Nkayi said: “The thing I love about KZN is its rich heritage and diversity. Walking through the exhibition made me feel like I was going down memory lane. The mood also makes you feel like you’re in the story when you are being taken on a tour,” said Nkayi. Visit www.zulu.org.za for the best holiday deals and packages.
A day with Tata Mandela: Television and radio personality Unathi NKayi with Angelique Benson and Erin Cusack, visited the renowned Nelson Mandela Capture Site which is now reopened under reduced operating hours. The trio are part of a whirlwind tour of the region with Tourism KwaZulu-Natal. The three were visiting the attraction’s newly-refurbished cultural and historical exhibition for the first time. The Natal Midlands and the Drakensberg tourism sector is resilient and is fighting to bring back tourism to its former glory after suffering a devastating blow from the COVID-19 restrictions. The newly refurbished centre also has the replica of the 1962 Austin Westminster that was used to ferry Nelson Mandela prior to his capture by apartheid operatives in 1962.Midlands Meander is working with TKZN on an aggressive marketing drive to boost visitor numbers to the area in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit www.zulu.org.za for the holiday best deals and packages.
Slug: Hot airballooning
The sky is no limit: Television personality Unathi Nkayi and Ayob Vania pondering on the breath-taking scenic views from their hot air balloon, which launched from Granny Mouse Country House. Enjoying the picturesque rolling hills, and the English countryside-type Midlands Meander scenery was the ultimate treat for the Gautenger who said KwaZulu-Natal simply took her breath away after being huddled indoors during the lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Nkayi’s balloon took off at sunrise and drifted with the wind. “It was just me and the elements. The pilot varied the height and I witnessed in all its splendour. The open fields with animals grazing, people going about their day, and the balloons dotted in the area” she said. Tourism KwaZulu-Natal is on an aggressive marketing drive to boost visitor numbers to the area as tourism took a hard hit in the past year. For all your holiday deals visit www.zulu.org.za
Slug: Paint solo
Total surrender: South Coast resident Brian Chang who recently arrived from China holds his hands up, after being defeated at the Yellowwood Action Combat Paintball Centre in the Natal Midlands. The Centre is designed to recreate the adrenaline rush of combat action in a supervised, and controlled outdoor action site. Chang is part of a group who are guests of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal which is currently on an aggressive marketing drive to boost visitor numbers to the area as tourism took a hard hit in the past year. Situated in the backdrop of the Howick Falls, the diverse paintball field has different bush fields to choose from one which obviously did not leave any guests bored. If you are a speedball tournament pro, a weekend warrior or a complete novice, this place caters for all needs. For holiday packages and specials visit: www.zulu.org.za
Slug: Paint duo
It takes two to tango: Adrenaline junkies Thabang Maluleke and Brian Chang at the Yellowwood Action Combat Paintball Centre situated in the Natal Midlands, joined forces yesterday (Saturday) to crush their opponents in a friendly battle of paintballing at the Yellowwood Action Combat Paintball Centre. Said Chang: “This is awesome. I felt like I was in a warzone ready to take on battle after being cooped up at home for almost 12 months. Thabang was a better compatriot instead of enemy.” The duo are part of a group who are guests of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal which is currently on an aggressive marketing drive to boost visitor numbers to the area as tourism took a hard hit in the past year. Situated in the backdrop of the Howick Falls, the diverse paintball field in has different bush fields to choose from one which obviously did not leave any guests bored. If you are a speedball tournament pro, a weekend warrior or a complete novice, this place caters for all needs. For holiday packages and specials visit: www.zulu.org.za
Slug: UnathiZipline 1
Having the time of her life: Bitten by the adventure bug, thrillseeker Unathi Nkayi had the time of her life when she visited Karkloof Canopy Tours in the Midlands.. The Idols judge, singer and radio personality zip-lined between 10 zip-lines and 12 platforms, taking in the magical views of KZN’s greenery as she went. “It’s been the time of my life in the air and I have just ticked off one more exciting activity on my bucket list. Next time I am bringing my kids to try this activity. KwaZulu-Natal never disappoints and I have enjoyed the incredible landscape of the Midlands,” she beamed.
A swinging time: Johannesburg resident and radio producer Ayob Vania experienced the thrills of the Karkkloof region when he ziplined up to 200 metres, taking his introduction to extreme sports to a new level. Vania is part of a group who are guests of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal on a tour to showcase how tourism in the Midlands is gradually recovering following the relaxation of the Covid restrictions. Visit www.zulu.org.za for the best holiday deals and packages.
The future looks brighter: Gifted wood carver Alson Zuma who creates amazing hand-carved panels and bushman art found his business did not escape the harsh impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. But his business is starting to pick up. “I am hopeful for the future as the Midlands is now slowly recovering and getting more tourists every day. While some craftsmen’s businesses closed completely, I am fortunate as I still have customers coming in,” Zuma who also works as a gardener said. “We are happy when we see entities like TKZN working with local communities to promote travel as it encourages more people to visit us.” Zuma’s work has featured on the walls of The Palace, the Mala Mala Game Reserve and the KZN Cultural Museum. Witas University is due to publish a book featuring a chapter on Zuma’s work.
The bounce back begins: Arts and crafts has always been a big drawcard for visitors to the Midlands and although artists struggled as a result of the Covid restrictions, their industry is now starting to bounce back following the easing of restrictions. Well-known ceramicist Astrid Dahl was lucky enough to have orders that kept her occupied. “Business was a little slow at the beginning of the year but it has now picked up,” she said. Dahl, who is pictured holding up one of her masterpieces at her studio during TKZN-hosted tour of the Midlands to boost tourism numbers, has displayed her work around the world, included New York, Paris and Dubai. The Queen of Jordan and Kim Kardashinan’s assistant have also bought some of her pieces.
For more information contact Sne Ndudula on 0827876987/0627378407