News Editors/Lifestyle/Entertainment and Music Journalists
Date: 27 February, 2021
Local community wants tourism to return to former glory
TOURISM is gradually recovering at one of KwaZulu-Natal’s most popular game reserves-and it is thanks to the support of the local domestic market.
This week Tourism KZN was at the Tala Collection Game Reserve with two top KZN singers/producers Aewon Wolf and Kyle Deutsch, who recently produced a song and video, “We have it all” which showcases the region’s many attractions.
The entity is on an aggressive campaign to rebuild tourism to its former glory.
Like other tourism businesses, the COVID-19 restrictions have hit Tala hard. A big part of Tala’s business had been welcoming international guests as well as hosting weddings, conferences and year-end functions and that all stopped.
But slowly the tourism sector is recovering, said Greg Allan, general manager of Tala.
“There is no question that local people are coming out to us,” said an upbeat Allan.
“One thing that was fantastic was when we went into full lockdown and when the President announced that we were moving to level three and visits to game parks could go ahead and no one could go to the beach.
“That meant they could come to Tala and that helped us massively. I think we would have closed if it had not been for that.”
There was no choice but to retrench 31 locally-employed staff, something which Allan was loath to do, as the local community is important to Tala.
The reserve is 51% owned by the local community-the Nkumbuleni Trust-and the National Empowerment Fund and 49% is since 2017 owned by Dream Hotels, a hotel management group, which has other properties in Jozini and Scottburgh.
The profits are being ploughed back into Tala and are currently being used to refurnish the property and ensure maintenance is taking place to ensure the venue meets hospitality standards. The four lodges are undergoing refurbishments and a new welcome centre is being built.
It is critical, the community representative of Nkumbuleni, Nelisiwe Khanyile, who is also the reserve’s housekeeping manager, said, to ensure that tourism is brought back to its former glory.
“Our community depends on the tourism jobs. Tala for a long time was our lifeline. If hotels are full again, many households will be able to thrive,” said Khanyile.
At least 50 people are employed at Tala from the local community (some were retrenched because of COVID); and many locals are receiving skills training.
While the domestic market is flocking to Tala at weekends, Allan and Khanyile point out that there are still five other days of the week when they would also like to welcome visitors.
“We want to ensure that KZN is not only known for its beaches and sun. We do have game reserves and they are quite spectacular,” she said, pointing out that Segways have been introduced to give visitors an intimate experience with the animals.
They are optimistic that the international visitors will eventually return to Tala.
Allan feels that large functions will never be the same as a lot of businesses will have to adapt to the new normal.
“They will become potentially staggered or run in a different format,” he believes.
“However, we are happy that people are still booking with us for one-two bedrooms. But we are hopeful that those big bookings will come back,” he said.
In the past two weeks TKZN has visited the North Coast and Midlands Meander to turn the public’s attention to these areas so that they would consider more staycations to boost domestic tourism.
Pics and captions herein:
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CAPTION 1) Fighting to bring tourism back to its former glory: Nelisiwe Khanyile, right, and Greg Allan have good reason to smile. Tourism is on the increase at Tala Game Reserve despite the hardships of the pandemic.
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CAPTION 2) Getting dirty: KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) artists Kyle Deutsch & Aewon Wolf getting down and dirty on quadbikes at Highstakes, in KZN with Gagasi DJs and presenters Zisto and Daddy Kulz.
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CAPTION 3) Pic slugged kznhasitall
We have it all: KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) artists Kyle Deutsch & Aewon Wolf say that have it all now that they explored the Zulu Kingdom
Greg Allan, GM at Tala Collection Game Reserve – 082 851 1978
Nelisiwe Khanyile, Housekeeping manager at Tala Collection Game Reserve and community representative- 072 921 2507
Media enquiries, Sne Ndudula: 0627378407/ 0827876987 and or email firstname.lastname@example.org