Durban - Arriving alone in a foreign country is daunting. Transport from the airport includes several options such as car hire, airport shuttle, taxis and ride-sharing services.
However, day-to-day commuting is limited. Unlike the locals, international travellers are naive to the bus routes and “bad areas”.
This raises the question: how tourist-friendly is Durban?
According to Tourism KZN’s website, Durban offers “great transport infrastructure and a variety of accommodation to suit all tastes and pockets”.
Sibusiso Mngoma, senior manager of Tourism Services, advised tourists to visit satellite offices in the province for information on bus routes and other transit options such as The People Mover, trains and taxis.
There are plans to make it easier and safer for tourists and locals to get around Durban with a new public transport network system: GO!Durban.
Set to be fully operable by 2030, programme manager Mabuyi Mhlanga said: “(Go!Durban) will be tourist-friendly and universally accessible for all.
“A security management plan will be implemented. It will feature CCTV cameras, security guards and station officials, who will communicate with one another and train operators,” Mhlanga explained.
In the interim, concerns for safety remained a leading deterrent to tourists, said a hospitality professional.
“The city itself is not seen as tourist-friendly internationally. The most important consideration for tourists is their safety and security,” said Charles Preece, operations manager for the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa East Coast.
According to Statistics SA, tourism led to 40000 new jobs over the five-year period from 2012 to 2016, surpassing the trade, utilities and manufacturing industries.
SA Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago suggested tourism was “low hanging fruit” for South Africa’s economy and “if we are to make it easier for tourists to be here, we would benefit from that”.
Improving tourism services, whether it be transport or safety concerns, will require participation and collaboration across several government entities.
“Our challenges are both structural- and product-development-related. In reality, tourists’ choices are influenced by numerous factors, including those that are outside of the control of us as a department,” said Blessing Manale, chief director of communications at the Department of Tourism.
Mngoma also cited the need for collaboration across all departments, when addressing tourism industry challenges.