DURBAN – KwaZulu-Natal is gearing up for a tourism boom in December from both domestic and international sources.
A large cut in the petrol price of R1.50 or thereabouts per litre should encourage more people from Gauteng and the Free State to make the trek to KZN's beaches, while the British Airways direct flight between London and Durban that started at the end of October will bring in more Britons to tan in KZN.
The over-recovery in the petrol price on November 6 was 156.896 cents per litre, so there is a good chance that the December retail price adjustment could be larger than R1.50 per litre. The adjustment will be announced on November 30 and take effect on December 5.
The large drop in the petrol price will make KZN more accessible to a larger number of people from inland provinces.
King Shaka Airport passenger data from the Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa) has continued to show growth in the number of passengers handled with a 6 percent y/y increase in September after an 8.4 percent y/y gain in August following a slowing to a 3.1 percent y/y rise in July from June's 10.8 percent y/y jump and that is expected to continue into December and January with the probability that growth numbers could exceed double digits given the easing of visa restrictions on overseas tourists.
At the World Travel Market in London this week, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom was at pains to stress that South Africa was open for business and willing to welcome more overseas tourists.
Hanekom predicted 2019 would be a stronger year for tourism following last year's drought, which nearly led to Cape Town almost running out of water. “We know we've been growing, but tourism is vulnerable to various types of shocks,” he said.
In recent months, King Shaka outperformed other airports, as the increase in passenger numbers for all Acsa airports was 2.6 percent y/y in September after a 2.4 percent y/y gain in August. At the beginning of the year there was a decline in international arrivals, which was more than offset by strong gains in domestic and regional passenger volumes, but a turnaround started in August, when there was a 8.7 percent y/y increase followed by a 13.6 percent y/y jump in September.
The 6.5 percent y/y increase in domestic passenger arrivals to 245 361 in December last year also shows that the domestic economy is reviving.