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KZN’s international traveller numbers are picking up

The King Shaka International Airport in Durban.

Tourism KZN acting CEO Sibusiso Gumbi said the number of international tourists from the UK increased greatly in 2023. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad Independent Newspapers

Published Nov 1, 2023


Durban - KwaZulu-Natal’s international traveller numbers are on the rise and tourism bodies are hoping there will be a further boost to business when the province is presented as a holiday destination at the 2023 World Travel Market in London next week.

Tourism KZN acting CEO Sibusiso Gumbi said the number of international tourists from the UK increased greatly in 2023.

“According to insights received from South African Tourism, during the second quarter of 2023, UK arrivals in KZN amounted to 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 quarter two in 2019, there are signs of recovery and encouraging opportunities for sustained growth going forward.”

Gumbi added that they were working around the clock to get back their top key international source markets.

“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.”

He added that the province’s Routes Development Committee had attended the Routes World 2023 conference in Türkiye to lobby for more airlines to fly directly to King Shaka International.

“Already international airlines such as Emirates, Qatar Airlines and Turkish Airlines fly directly to Durban, indicating that international travellers are keen to return to KZN.”

Gumbi said next week’s World Travel Market provided a strategic opportunity to “strengthen valuable relationships with leading tour operators and showcase KZN as a unique destination”.

“Just as many of our domestic tourists are having to tighten their purse strings for this summer, so too are international tourists looking to rein in their spending 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 and KZN positions itself as a destination that offers that.”

Brett Tungay, Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa East Coast chairperson, said the World Travel Market was crucial to secure international tourists for KZN.

“It’s important that Tourism KZN be there so we are marketed to top tour operators. The European summer is in June /July so that is when we will see the full impact and if KZN is being picked up by international tour operators. However,

we still do expect that this could be a welcome boost for KZN in December.”

Jeannie Sarno, the chairperson of uMhlanga Tourism, said she was pleased that KZN was being presented at the World Travel Market.

“It brings me great joy when I see that our beautiful KZN is finally getting the recognition it deserves. It’s crucial to educating foreigners that there is more to South Africa than Cape Town and Johannesburg.”

Phelisa Mangcu, CEO of South Coast Tourism and Investment Enterprise, said there was no doubt that the KZN South Coast was a major attraction for visitors from across the globe.

“The fact that KZN is being represented to a global audience at the 2023 World Travel Market is incredibly beneficial to the KZN South Coast and the province as a whole, particularly ahead of the festive season.”

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