KZN South Coast seeks expert advice for enhanced tourism safety amidst new

KZN South Coast seeks expert advice for enhanced tourism safety amidst new Covid-19 variant

With its natural abundance and family-friendly activities, the KZN South Coast is an established tourism-driven economy with many businesses reliant on incoming visitors. In its ongoing efforts to retain the area as a top destination, Ugu South Coast Tourism (USCT) has sought input from one of the country’s leading occupational health experts, Sean Chester, whose company has provided support to the National Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Public, Private and Trade Union Committee; National Health Department and the KZN Department of Health (DoH) Covid Task Team.

“The KZN South Coast is a tourism hub for both local and international visitors, which means our businesses have had to keep at the forefront of all Covid-19 health and safety protocols,” explained CEO of USCT, Phelisa Mangcu. “With the arrival of a second wave, as well as the new 501Y.V2 variant which is 50 percent more infectious, we want to maintain a superior level of safety which is why we’re consulting with the industry best for the latest, science-based practices.”

Sean Chester, Exposure Specialist and Technical Director of Apex Environmental, award-winning occupational hygiene specialists, has provided local tourism businesses with valuable insight and protocols for minimising transmission during this time. Critical to this is the need for proper ventilation, an often-overlooked factor that can be detrimental to businesses.

“As a business owner myself, I understand the complexities involved in managing a workplace with Covid-19,” said Chester. “Besides the detrimental impact on health and logistics, the impact on productivity for a business owner is potentially devastating. This, and the fact that patrons aren’t leaving their houses, is challenging the economy of so many businesses such as tourism.”

Ventilation required to minimise aerosol transmission

Chester explained that the Department of Employment and Labour’s OHS Direction – which outlines the minimum protocols for workplaces – incorporates the World Health Organisation’s three Cs:

–  Avoid contact with infected people.

–  Avoided closed (poorly ventilated) areas.

–  Avoid crowded spaces.

“There is an inadequate emphasis on the importance of ventilation,” he said. “This fact is highlighted through a rapidly growing body of research that the aerosol route of transmission is perhaps the most significant of all, and is abundantly clear to scientists that this transmission route is what’s responsible for super-spreader events.”

This was brought to the world’s attention in July 2020 when 239 international scientists shared their findings. However, Chester said that despite President Cyril Ramaphosa’s appeals for ventilation to manage risk assessment, the call often goes unheeded.

“We need to achieve around 15 L/s/p – or 12 air changes – per hour, of fresh air, which will result in around 99.9 percent risk reduction,” he continued. “Current National Building Regulations mandate only two air changes per hour for an occupied space, so many buildings have not been designed to prevent the spread of disease.”

How can businesses determine adequate ventilation?

Covid-19 has catalysed the ventilation research which indicates that, if a business opens doors and windows, allowing for a good through-breeze, the required ventilation should be achieved.

“The easiest way to check that you have sufficient ventilation is to have your carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations monitored,” continued Chester. “There is a strong correlation between CO2 concentrations and adequate ventilation. This can be done by buying a carbon dioxide meter, or getting experts in to assess your premises to provide you with a Certificate of Covid-19 Compliance, which part of the Green Flag Initiative.”

What about air conditioners and fans?

“If you have a central air-conditioning system, you must check that there is a fresh-air make-up component in this system and, if there is, the air inlet dampers must be fully open. If there is no inlet vent or if you have cassette or wall-mounted split-unt air conditioning, then you do not have ventilation and you are potentially working in or entering a Covid-19 hot-spot. Pedestal and oscillating fans do the same thing – they transport and circulate aerosols. If you can’t introduce fresh air to the space, you can install a low-voltage UVC 254nm unit.”

What are some common healthy and safety mistakes?

Chester explained that, were everyone to follow the regulations, Covid-19 would be eradicated within a few weeks. However, bad habits continue to spread the virus and need to be tackled. He said that some of these include:

–  The wearing of masks under the nose;

–  The use of valved masks which release unfiltered air;

–  The use single-layer masks or buffs which do not adequately prevent the transmission of droplets;

–  The use of soap sanitizer;

–  Insufficient social distancing space; and

–  Public transport with insufficient ventilation.

He advised it’s best to use an FFP2 (N95-equivalent) mask whenever possible, low occupancy rate, good ventilation and 70% isopropyl alcohol sanitisers for the business setting, with owners and managers constantly enforcing the OHS Direction.

KZN South Coast tourism business support

USCT continues to support KZN South Coast tourism establishments by supplying updated information on safety protocols, which can be found:

–  By downloading the free ‘Explore KZN South Coast’ app – available from Google Play or Apple stores;

–  By checking www.visitkznsouthcoast.co.za;

–  By joining the South Coast Tourism WhatsApp and emailer list (simply emailinfo@tourismsouthcoast.co.za.); and

–  Following ‘South Coast Tourism’ on Facebook and YouTube, or @infosouthcoast on Twitter and Instagram for any breaking news updates.

Covid-19 compliance is vital to the survival of the tourism industry at this time, and with the KZN South Coast a key tourism destination, all industry members are urged to adhere to the relevant procedures.

 

High resolution images are available upon request.

Image: supplied by The Gorge Private Game Lodge & Spa

The Gorge Private Game Lodge & Spa is nestled in the spectacular Oribi Gorge.

Photographer: Luke Colls

Crocworld’s Fish Eagle Café recently added a wraparound deck to their restaurant, offering patrons an opportunity to sit in a well ventilated outdoor space enjoying spectacular ocean views of Scottburgh.

About Ugu South Coast Tourism
Ugu South Coast Tourism (USCT) is the official destination management organisation of the Ugu District Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa. The Ugu District comprises four local municipalities that include Umdoni, Umzumbe, Umuziwabantu and Ray Nkonyeni. USCT’s mandate is to grow tourism within the KZN South Coast. This involves implementing marketing and development initiatives that are aimed at showcasing the diverse offerings and experiences of the South Coast as tourist destination. A board of directors oversees USCT, headed by CEO, Phelisa Mangcu.

About KZN South Coast
Known as the ‘Paradise of the Zulu Kingdom’, the KZN South Coast stretches 120 kilometres from Scottburgh to Port Edward and inland to Harding. Here, the spirit of adventure can be discovered among the many cultural experiences, as well as the 35 nature trails and 58 beaches, ideal for activities like river rafting, abseiling, suspension bridges, paintball, surfing, SUP, canoeing, beach horse rides, shark cage diving and free diving. Nicknamed ‘The Golf Coast’, there are 11 golf courses on the KZN South Coast ranging in difficulty, with endless hiking, mountain biking and 4×4 trails for more rugged excursions. Promoting sustainability, the KZN South Coast has a growing agri-tourism sector that offers world-class produce and hosts tours and excursions. The region boasts a number of permanently managed Blue Flag beaches, and is home to some of the world’s top diving sites, Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks. The originality continues with the annual Sardine Run, coined the #GreatestShoalonEarth, which is the largest biomass migration on earth and a marvel to witness. The region’s many nature reserves are inhabited by indigenous bird and wildlife, and it holds the title for ‘smallest desert on earth’, The Red Desert in Port Edward. The KZN South Coast is a fast-emerging MICE destination which also plays host to a number of high-profile events including the The Bike Fest, Uvukile Gospel Festival, Ugu Jazz, Ugu Film Festival and the South Coast Fever MTB & Trail Run Series.

Issued on behalf of:

Ugu South Coast Tourism (USCT)

Disseminated by:
Olivia Jones Communications

For more information please contact:
Olivia Jones Communications
Cell: 083 653 1720
Email: media@oliviajones.co.za

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