Ndabo Khoza,MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu and Sadha Naidoo during the launch of Tourism Masterplan at Fairmont Hoet in Izimbali.Picture Zanele Zulu.10/09/2013

Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal Tourism Master Plan was launched by the Economic Development and Tourism MEC, Michael Mabuyakhulu, and Tourism KZN bosses at the Fairmont Zimbali Hotel in Ballito Tuesday.

Dubbed as an overarching vision and road map for tourism development in the province over the next two decades to beyond 2030, the plan has set some ambitious targets and the development of several stand-out tourism projects.

These projects include a Drakensberg cable car; the King Shaka statue near the Tugela River mouth; a monument or statue near the Durban Harbour breakwater entrance; a landmark bridge from the Bluff, over the harbour, linked to the Durban point area; major beach resorts on the coast; and a new Isandlwana Development Precinct in the historic KZN battlefields area.

Many of these projects have been mentioned before, but the provincial tourism department has already started work to unlock some of them, such as the Drakensberg cable car plan and King Shaka statue.

A preliminary study has already been done on the cable car proposal and Mabuyakhulu is one of the biggest campaigners of the plan.

“One of our main goals as part of the plan is for KZN to be recognised as Africa’s top beach destination by 2030.

Establishing major beach resorts and other iconic attractions along the coast is a part of the master plan,” said Mabuyakhulu.

The main targets include:

* Tripling the economic contribution of the tourism sector to provincial GDP from about R22 billion in 2010 to over R65bn by 2030.

* Increasing foreign tourist arrivals to KZN from 1.2 million in 2010 to more than 2 million by 2030.

* Increasing KZN’s major share of the domestic tourism trips from about 9 million to more than 10 million by 2030.

* Doubling the number of people directly employed in the tourism sector in KZN to 204 000 people by 2030.

“While some people may see this as ambitious, we have set what we believe are reasonably achievable targets. But, for example, there is no reason why we can’t increase our current lion’s share of South Africa’s domestic tourism pie from around 30 percent currently to even around 45 percent,” he said.

Mabuyakhulu said the 190-page master plan had taken more than three years to develop with input from all sectors including the private sector, local government and municipalities, labour and other role-players. Professional services group Grant Thornton was brought in to develop the plan with Tourism KZN and provincial government.

The plan not only had targets and identified key tourism development projects and opportunities, but also challenges that needed to be addressed such as air travel access, transformation of the industry, safety and security, improving geographic spread of tourism, and increasing service excellence levels in the industry.

“The KZN Tourism Master Plan succinctly spells out the vision for KZN, which wants to be globally renowned as Africa’s top beach destination with a unique blend of wildlife, scenery and heritage. In order to achieve this vision, the plan has identified clearly defined objectives and targets.

“It must be noted that the plan is aligned to the KZN Provincial Growth and Development Strategy as well as the National Tourism Sector Strategy of the department of tourism, which aims for South Africa to be one of the top 20 tourism destinations in the world.”

Mabuyakhulu said the plan was not a government one, but needed to be private-sector driven and community based. The plan needed strong private sector buy-in, good intergovernmental co-ordination and clearly defined roles for each stakeholder for the vision of the plan to be realised.

Mike Jackson, the regional chairman of the Federated Hospitality Association of SA, said the master plan was a significant milestone for the future development of tourism in KZN. “This is hugely encouraging for us in the tourism industry. The launch of the plan represents the culmination of years of hard work. We welcome the plan and it has our full support.”

The Mercury