Discussions are taking place on how the operators and agents can package the new route for their future holiday brochures

Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN) is exhibiting at the all-important World Travel Market in London this week and they have some ground-breaking news to share with global delegates: “KZN is open to Europe and travellers and business are welcome”.

On display at Excel, London, from November 5-7, Tourism KwaZulu-Natal is promoting the Zulu Kingdom to top operators from all over of the world, engaging them on packaging tours and what works best for their travellers.

The WTM exhibition comes hot on the heels of the inaugural direct British Airways flight on October 30th from Heathrow to Durban’s King Shaka International Airport.

Discussions are taking place on how the operators and agents can package the new route for their future holiday brochures and is running a 24-month joint marketing campaign with BA to do that.

The province is on an aggressive drive to generate sales leads, promote new tourism products, enter new markets, raise destination awareness and conduct market research to grow its international arrivals.

The new BA route has opened direct travel for the European market from London and given our tourism trade and organisation added boost and confidence, said Phindile Makwakwa, Acting Chief Executive Officer for TKZN.

Several European tour operators and travel agents recently visited KZN ahead of the Durban Direct flight to see what the province had to offer their customers. And more tour operators are expected in the coming months.

With some 51 000 delegates expected at WTM London, the event, which features 5 000 exhibitors, is the globe’s biggest gathering of travel industry players who are meeting to negotiate, network and conduct business.

Makwakwa who has described the new Heathrow-King Shaka International Airport route as a “game-changer,” said that the UK is KZN’s biggest international tourism source market and now that there was a direct link between the two cities, that also linked Europe to the Province, she was optimistic that good deals would be struck.

“Now that the BA first flight has been launched, the real work begins for us. In order for us to ensure that the route is sustainable, we need to solidify our relationships with top tour operators that bring tourists to KZN, "Makwakwa said. "We’ve already seen a major rise in the number of tourists coming from the UK for the February 2019 period compared to this year and we assure our partners that the Zulu Kingdom is definitely ready to welcome them.

“KZN should be the best destination for the European market to escape the bone chilling weather and head to the sunny Zulu Kingdom over the next few months. You can find 365 days of sun in KZN.”

The new route, which BA is operating in a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner plane, slashes at least three hours off the journey to KwaZulu-Natal, making the trip easier and more convenient for passengers who no longer have to break their journey on stop-overs at other airports en- route to Durban’s King Shaka International Airport.

There is great excitement in the hospitality industry both at home and in the UK about the three weekly non-stop route and Makwakwa and team are busy sharing that excitement with UK and Europe-based tour operators and travel agents they have appointments with, as well as those who call in at their exhibition stand.

“The timing could not be better. We are at WTM London just days after BA launched this direct route, which is what passengers, travel agents and tour operators have been asking about for years,” Makwakwa said.

KZN boasts sufficient world-class facilities to accommodate the international tourists. Many Brits have strong historical ties to KZN, and tourism offerings on display with strong British heritage will indeed attract many, including the Battlefield route of Isandlwana, which for many is a bucket list must.