What was needed to grow tourism in the region was to attract the mass market by having internationally-branded and recognised hotels in a stretch of the coastline, enabling international holidaymakers to fly in, have a holiday and fly out again, making way for the next batch of tourists, they said. The resorts would have to be within an easy drive of King Shaka International Airport.
A source said on Thursday that there was now keen interest from overseas about building and operating a resort hotel.
At the end of Thursday’s Tourism Indaba media briefing, Phindile Makwakwa, the chief operating officer of Tourism KZN, also lamented the lack of a beach resort next to the region’s warm Indian Ocean waters.
“We hope that next year, there will be a major announcement on new developments,” she said.
About 20000 meetings had taken place between “buyers” and exhibitors at the Pan African tourism trade show up to Thursday morning - and there were still hours to go, said Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo of South Africa Tourism, which owns Indaba.
There were more than 1 000 exhibitors at the three-day show, now being held mid-week, instead of starting at the weekend as previously, so that delegates can get down to the business of doing business, said Sisa Ntshona, the chief executive of SA Tourism.
Ninety small and medium-sized South African entrepreneurs exhibited their wares - 10 from each province - and there were 368 buyers whose job was to make deals with exhibitors and put details about holidays and packages in their brochures.
The small entrepreneurs were the “future stars” of the local tourism industry as they offered new experiences for travellers, Ntshona said.