The tourism industry plays an important role in any community, due to its role as a commercial activity which creates demand and growth for many industries.
Furthermore, not only does tourism contribute to a town’s economy, but also assists in job creation, generating revenue and playing a significant role in development.
As a country renowned for its beauty, from coastlines to mountain tops, our tourism industry is without question our country’s “saving grace”.
According to Statista, a staggering 16.44 million tourists made their way to South Africa in 2018.
With hordes of adventurous people from foreign countries making their way to sunny South Africa, what does the tourism sector look like in Newcastle?
Laurence Short, of the Newcastle Municipality’s Economic Development and Tourism departments, claims Newcastle is doing reasonably well in the tourism sector.
“Currently, we are seeing an occupancy of 74% in B&Bs and hotels. While this figure has gone down from 82%, Newcastle is doing much better than other towns.”
Short explains the drop in occupancy is due to the current economic climate in the country, with national load shedding also playing a minor role.
However, he explains that despite the financial constraints faced by people, Newcastle is still a popular destination.
“From February to October, Newcastle is a wedding haven. We are surrounded by beautiful nature scenes and this attracts a lot of people.”
Furthermore, Short adds that events such as the Chelmsford Challenge, the Newcastle Winter Festival and the Newcastle Air Show also draws scores of people to Newcastle, which has a positive impact on the town’s economy.
Short adds that alongside Newcastle being surrounded by the splendour of nature, other contributing factors to Newcastle being a popular destination can be found through nature reserves.
“Newcastle is in close proximity to several nature reserves, such as Chelmsford, Nambiti and Utrecht,” he explains.
The town’s rich history and the Battlefields Route also draws a significant amount of tourists into the town.
But just exactly how does the Newcastle Municipality attract tourists?
Short explains that through KZN Tourism and the Battlefields Route platforms, Newcastle Municipality is able to advertise and promote its beauty to people across South Africa and in far off countries.
“We also get a lot of exposure through our affiliation to the Newcastles’ of the World,” he says.
Short adds the Newcastle Municipality is also planning to participate in trade shows in the new financial year.
“We are also looking at a budget for a brochure for the business and tourism industry in Newcastle within the next year,” he explains.
With the Newcastle Municipality promoting the tourism sector and in turn the economic development, Short encourages Newcastillians to change their perceptions of Newcastle.
“By being positive, we can draw positivity into the town and help the town reach its full potential,” he concludes.
As our town moulds and shifts through its developments, one thing is for sure, our gorgeous surroundings and memorable offerings are a uniqueness to be treasured by us all.