Durban — The influx of tourists in KwaZulu-Natal during this festive season is expected to contribute at least R3.6 billion to the provincial economy.
The figures were released by Dr Thandeka Ellenson, acting head of the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Edtea), during Tourism KwaZulu-Natal’s official launch of the province’s Summer Season Campaign, held in conjunction with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) at the Mpenjati Nature Reserve in the Ugu District on Friday.
She said this festive season, KwaZulu-Natal was expecting approximately 845 000 visitors. This included 52 000 international tourists. Ellenson said while domestic tourists were the mainstay of KZN’s tourism industry, the contribution from international visitors should never be underestimated.
“The total number of international tourists to the province has risen by 22% in the first six months of 2023 compared to the same time last year. From January to June last year, we welcomed 258 411 international tourists, while this year we welcomed 316 468 international tourists,” she said.
She added that during engagements at the World Trade Market in London this month, TKZN had engaged with tour operators from the UK, Spain, the US, the Middle East and Ghana. She said feedback was positive, with KZN’s game reserves proving very popular.
However, she said tour operators had highlighted the need to reinstate the direct UK-Durban flight which stopped during Covid-19 travel bans. Through Durban Direct, the committee responsible for route development to Durban, Edtea, would continue to lobby British Airways for the return of the airline, she said.
Acting EKZNW CEO Sihle Mkhize said 43 377 international visitors had explored the province’s game parks and World Heritage Sites this year, an 18.7% increase year-on-year.
“To improve our visitor experience, Ezemvelo recently awarded a contract for a service provider to manage all its restaurant facilities and ensure that visitors enjoy world-class dining. It also continues to roll-out a range of maintenance and renovation projects to keep accommodation at high standards and ensure road access to and within reserves is good,” he said.
Referring to preparations for the 2023 season, Ellenson said Tourism KZN continued to work closely with the Department of Community Safety and Liaison and law enforcement to ensure holidaymaker safety.
At the weekend, TKZN hosted a Tourism Safety Awareness Programme together with the KZN Sharks Board, KZN Liquor Authority, South Coast Tourism, law enforcement and lifeguards on Margate Main Beach. This educated locals about safety and marine pollution and helped create an understanding of the importance of meeting visitor expectations.
Ellenson encouraged local residents who were not travelling this festive season to join in with the tourism spirit in KZN and take time out to explore their own province.
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