Durban. Picture: THINKSTOCK
Durban. Picture: THINKSTOCK

The multibillion-rand project aimed at giving Durban’s Point precinct and beachfront a facelift will not bring about the desired influx of tourists unless security is improved, the hospitality industry warns.

Interested parties say rampant crime along beaches is impeding the city’s potential of attracting millions of tourists and much-needed local and foreign direct tourism investment.

Charles Preece, east coast operational manager of the Federated Hospitality Association of SA, said they support and encourage the investment, but tourists need to feel safe at all times.

“Tourists need to feel safe to walk the beach for 24 hours because we cannot afford to offer them only daylight packages,” Preece said.

“We support this [the development] because it means that we can offer packages with more attractions to our visitors. But security remains a big concern for us and the tourists alike.

“The municipality has been doing a good job in upgrading security on the beach but they need to do even more,” he said.

The city will unveil an 8km, R300m expansion of the beach promenade in November that will allow visitors to walk from Blue Lagoon beach in the north to the Point harbour mouth in the south. Construction of the brand-new international cruise ship terminal is also under way.

Philip Sithole, deputy city manager for economic development and planning, says the city will also spend more than R1.3bn to build bulk infrastructure projects early in 2020.

Winile Mntungwa, spokesperson for Durban Tourism, told Business Day the second phase of the promenade development project will be implemented over the next 18 months. It will include a five-star hotel, a multimillion-rand mall, yacht clubs and other water sports facilities, as well as other residential and business establishments near the Point Waterfront area.

“There is no doubt that these new facilities will change the face of the Durban beachfront and the Point precinct. We are very excited ... because these facilities ... will be a drawcard for local and international tourists and there will be many activities and ample parking so that people can move in and out with ease,” she said.

Jason Fiddler, chair of the KwaZulu-Natal Gay & Lesbian Tourism Association, said that although many international tourists inquire about local attractions,“they also ask if it is safe to be here”.

“There is no doubt that security has to be upgraded and we also have to have broad communications about what is possible in this area and what attractions are there so that we can pass these to our contacts locally and overseas,” Fiddler said.

Mntungwa said they are aware of the concerns about safety and security and they are upgrading their plans to ensure that the issue is dealt with quickly. “The metro police hired more than 200 officers and many of these will be stationed around this area so that our tourists are safe,” she said.

Property developers are also watching the development with a keen eye.   

Herbert Chalupsky, head of the real estate agency Chalupsky Properties, which has a large portfolio of properties on the Point and the Durban beachfront, said that after years of stagnation on the Point things are moving apace in the area.

“This area is supposed to be a property market paradise but due to uncertainty very few people were willing to invest their money here. But the building of the brand-new cruise ship terminal and the promenade and other projects will bring the critical mass into the Point,” he said.