KZN tour operators have been urged to get "online" to attract tourists. Picture: Pixabay

Durban - To get a piece of the billion rand tourism pie, KZN tourism operators have been urged to get online.

Speaking at the Lilizela Tourism Awards ceremony on Thursday night, MEC for economic development, tourism and environmental affairs, Sihle Zikalala, said clients were looking for places that had their own websites, and internet connectivity.

“Any tourism business which customers cannot locate in the cloud or on the web is bound to stagnate. Clients are increasingly looking to visit places that are branded on their own websites, and Wi-Fi availability is increasingly on the shopping list of tourists. We urge those who might still be left behind to up their game and get connected as soon as possible,” he said.

The awards ceremony celebrates the province’s top service providers in the industry.

Zikalala said tourism in KZN remained high, with both domestic and international visitors.

“The latest statistics reveal that some 2 000 more international tourists arrived via King Shaka International Airport in the first three months of the year compared to the same period last year.

International visitors made a record 206 000 trips to KZN in the first quarter of the year, while there was almost half-a-million local domestic trips,” he said.

KZN received 7.3% of the 2.8 million international trips to South Africa in the first three months of the year, a 5.5% increase.

“The tourists stayed an average of 10 nights in the region, spending an average of R7 800 each and boosting the regional coffers by some R1.3 billion rand,” he said.

From the end of October, British Airways will fly directly from Heathrow into King Shaka International Airport.