DURBAN - The international passenger arrivals data from King Shaka International Airport shows a welcome return to growth in June and July last month after pre-election jitters caused a drop in May.
The data from the Airports Company of SA (Acsa) shows that international passenger arrivals jumped to a 25.1% year-on-year (y/y) increase in July and a 24.7% y/y rise in June after falling by 14.4% y/y in May.
Palesa Phili, chief executive of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, welcomed the increase and said it was the fruit of many years of effort by various KwaZulu-Natal stakeholders to increase airline capacity into Durban.
“The increase in international arrivals is a positive indicator for the Durban economy. This is a result of significant efforts by both public and private sectors to bring in new airlines and additional flights from existing airlinesAdded to this is Durban’s and KZN’s wide array of quality tourism products in both leisure and business sectors,” she said.
“International visitors contribute positively to Durban’s economy through increased revenue for the tourism and hospitality sectors and their respective value chains The Durban Chamber believes that both domestic and international tourism are essential for Durban and the province,” she added.
“Business and leisure tourism have a multiplier effect on job creation and opportunity creation as well as contributing to infrastructure development and the upliftment of urban and rural areas through rejuvenation projects.
"The Durban Chamber would welcome the addition of even more direct international flights to and from various destinations as this will serve as a huge catalyst for Durban’s economy,” she said.
The Acsa data does not say whether the international arrivals are returning South African residents or foreign tourists, but they were most likely to be foreign tourists after the introduction of a three times a week direct flight between Durban and London by British Airways in October last year.
2018The date shows that domestic arrivals at King Shaka airport grew by 6.3% y/y in June after a 0.3% y/y drop in May, but then eased to a small 0.3% y/y gain in Julyyear. Most domestic tourists in KZN arrive by car or bus, but this data was not collected by any agency.
Statistics SA does produce an annual domestic tourism report and that is based on surveys.
Riëtte Bennett, from St Lucia Tours and Charters, said tourists to St Lucia were dominated by international tourists, so the jump in June and Julylast month was welcome after a poor start to the year.
“Up until the middle of July business was almost dead in St Lucia. Our whole town took a big knock, with no guests arriving, and we thought it must have been the election dates that kept people away…also the economy slowing down for our South African visitors, and riots on the main roads may have scared some people off travelling” she said.
That changed last monthn July and now St Lucia is teeming with tourists who enjoy the warm weather and the chance to spot whales and sometimes an encounter with other wildlife“We are one of the most popular towns among Europeans; they just love coming here, and from July 15 to August 25 they have summer school holidays, and at the moment our village is fully booked,” she added.
“We also have the peak season of the migrating Humpback Whales, the nearby Imfolozi/Hluhluwe Game Reserve, the Cape Vidal iSimangaliso Wetland Park, and the estuary is full of hippos,” she said.