In the past, when hundreds of child were lost, Durban police complained that some parents were using them as babysitters while the moms and dads partied on the beach. This year, no children were separated from their parents. Image: Yasantha Naidoo

The empty tent to accommodate lost children was an unfamiliar sight on Durban’s beachfront since the start of the festive season.

Over the years, the tent and other nearby police premises would be overflowing with hundreds of children. Some would spend days with police and social workers before they were reunited with their parents.

KwaZulu-Natal SAPS spokesperson Col Thembeka Mbele said no children had been separated from their parents during this year’s festivities.

Durban metro police spokesperson Supt Mthokozisi Msomi confirmed that no children were lost on the beachfront. He attributed it to a safety campaign which ensures that every child on the beach is tagged.

Msomi added that beachgoers were well-behaved since the start of the festive season.

“There were no big incidents. Everyone behaved very well,” he said.

The eThekwini municipality reported that preliminary indicators showed close to 200,000 visitors descended on the city during the Christmas weekend and had spent close to R150m.

“Throughout this festive period, starting from December 15 to January 4, the city recorded over 80% occupancy rates across its accommodation establishments. This resulted in restaurants and eateries in the townships and other destinations bursting at the seams with tourists,” said municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela.

Like many cities in the world, eThekwini’s tourism industry lost hundreds of millions in revenue as a result of Covid-19.

eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda was elated about “festive season preparedness, for assisting the city to re-cement its place in the country as a tourist mecca”.

“When it comes to tourism, we are not taking chances. That’s why we have got our festive season management committee (Fesmac) that assists us to meet the needs of our visitors. We will forever be indebted to the people of eThekwini for their unrelenting hospitality.

“We desperately needed this development, for we were bruised by the pandemic and multitudes of our people lost jobs. I am happy that following these figures, it means we are doing things right,” said Kaunda.

Durban welcomed holidaymakers from all over SA. KwaZulu-Natal accounted for 34% of visitors, 31% came from Gauteng, 12% from the Eastern Cape and eight percent from the Western Cape.



By Daniel

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