Durban – The Durban Hilton hotel is to reopen its doors for business after it closed down almost two years ago due to dwindling tourist figures and the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
EThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda revealed during an executive committee meeting that, “the Hilton hotel is in the process of reopening after a long closure”.
An official from the EMEA Communications, speaking on behalf of the hotel, said: “I can confirm that Hilton Durban remains temporarily closed. We look forward to welcoming guests back to Hilton Durban in the future and will provide updates on the reopening timeline as soon as this is confirmed.”
The chief executive of the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Conversion Centre (ICC), Lindiwe Rakharebe, said they were engaging with the Hilton, adding that work inside the hotel was under way to prepare for the reopening. She said the hotel had faced challenges with its services that had been disconnected and she had been able to get the services reconnected.
“They had projected to open by the festive season, the owner of the hotel said he had wanted the hotel to be opened by October but that did not happen,” she said.
Rakharebe said the hotel was an important partner of the ICC, saying its proximity made it a favourite among the guests of the facility as it was within walking distance. “They (the hotel) know they get business from us. They have missed out on several key functions the ICC has hosted”
She said the hotel was looking to rehire some of its staff.
It was reported in January 2021 that the hotel would close its doors. At the time, it was reported that Hilton had decided to close down more than 1 000 of its hotels around the world due to a decline in revenue brought on by the pandemic.
The revelations that it would reopen come as the ICC and the municipality discussed building another five-star hotel in the city to increase capacity.
They argued another hotel was necessary even with the Hilton reopening.
The chairperson of the ICC board, Glen Mashinini, said the city should facilitate the process of opening another hotel around the ICC complex. The idea was largely supported by councillors.
ANC councillor Thanduxolo Sabelo said he had been engaging with the ICC, asking why they did not have a hotel saying it made no sense to have a facility of that nature and not have a hotel.
EFF councillor Thabane Miya said they welcomed the remarks by the mayor about the reopening. “The closure of the Hilton has had a negative impact on the economy of the city. If there are functions at the ICC, the heads of state sleep in the Hilton. So we are happy that the hotel will reopen.”
DA councillor Thabani Mthethwa said: “We welcome the plans to reopen the hotel, it plays an important role in the economy of the city, but we do not believe that it is enough to just open tourism a facility without addressing the issue of sewerage.”
Brett Tungay of Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa questioned the need for another hotel saying there was enough hotel capacity in Durban.
“We probably don’t need another hotel in Durban at this stage. We do have some very good beachfront hotels at present that are not very far from the ICC,” he said. “Especially for top-end business travel,” he said.