Durban — Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN) is heading to London for the 2023 World Travel Market (WTM) on Monday.
Tourism KZN will engage with top tour operators to ensure that the province is included in their itineraries and travel packages for international travellers and booking agents.
Newly-appointed acting chief executive officer of TKZN, Sibusiso Gumbi, said the event, from November 6-8, provided a strategic opportunity to strengthen valuable relationships with leading tour operators and showcased KZN as a unique destination that not only offered world-class game reserves, great weather, culture and warm hospitality but also provided far more value for money than many competing destinations.
“Just as many of our domestic tourists are tightening their purse strings for this summer, so too are international tourists looking to rein in their spend as they navigate rising living and energy costs in turbulent global waters in the run-up to the 2024 European summer season.
“They are seeking destinations that offer value for money with exceptional experiences. KZN positions itself as a destination that offers that and more,” Gumbi said.
Over the past two years TKZN and the region’s tourism trade have worked hard to rebuild the province’s international tourism market after the Covid-19 pandemic, he said. Now that a strong foundation has been put in place for international tourism to flourish, it is time for growth as the sector embraces new trends.
The WTM gives TKZN access to the world’s largest tour operators, leading travel agents and global travel media.
During the WTM, TKZN will engage with top operators from various European countries to lock deals that will drive international tourists to the province ahead of the Europe summer season.
The UK is the second biggest key international source market for KZN, recently overtaken by the US.
In 2019, the UK accounted for a large portion of the 32 667 foreign arrivals in KZN (including visitors from Africa).
“In line with our tourism recovery strategy, we are focused on rebuilding our international markets through various in-country initiatives and activations that we are undertaking with South African Tourism. Our aim is to provide tourism operators with information which they can use to confidently promote and sell KZN,” Gumbi said.
According to insights received from South African Tourism, during the second quarter of 2023, UK arrivals in KZN totalled 147 800 people, accounting for 1.5 million bed nights and contributing R1.4 billion to the provincial economy.
Although not yet at the same level as Q2 in 2019, Gumbi says there are signs of recovery and encouraging opportunities for sustained growth going forward.
“While we are working around the clock to get our top key international source markets back, we are aware that the needs of travellers have also changed and we are working closely with our local tourism trade partners to continually bring exciting new products to the market, upgrade their offerings and keep their service at world-class levels,” Gumbi said.
He noted that the province’s routes development committee had attended the World Routes 2023 conference in Türkiye to lobby for more airlines to fly directly to King Shaka International Airport in Durban.
Already international airlines such as Emirates, Qatar Airlines and Turkish Airlines fly directly to Durban, indicating that international travellers are keen to return to the province.
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