The South African province of KwaZulu-Natal remains the number one tourism destination for local travellers, attracting more than one third of the domestic tourism market.
According to Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN) CEO, Ndabo Khoza, speaking at an industry briefing held on Thursday 20 March at the Sun Coast Casino in Durban, this growth in domestic tourism amounted to a 10% increase on last year.
Khoza went on to explain that the province also enjoyed increased hotel occupancies, which were well above the national average, according to a recent STR Global study.
“Tourism was significantly affected by the economic slowdown, but these latest numbers show that people are once again travelling and enjoying holidays. In addition to our dominance in the domestic market, it was very pleasing to see strong increases in the number of direct foreign air arrivals, which saw an eight percent growth according to Forward Keys.”
Khoza said that recent investments by the private sector further enhanced the province’s appeal, “There is over R500-million being reinvested into tourism products, for the upgrading and extending of existing facilities, as well as the building of brand new facilities. Such significant investments are not done lightly and reaffirm the position that KwaZulu-Natal is a growth market for tourism.
“However, we still have a vast untapped domestic market in South Africa, with millions of people yet to experience the pleasure of a holiday, let alone explore the country or see the sea for the first time. In the past, many people did not view themselves as potential tourists, or believed that holidays were for someone else and were unaffordable.
“Therefore a key focus of ours will be on changing these perceptions and creating new domestic tourists to visit the province, by making travel accessible and affordable,” said Khoza.
Part of this is achieved through the sho’t left campaign. KwaZulu-Natal has been the biggest beneficiary of the campaign and TKZN encourages the travel trade to continue promoting packages through the sho’t left. In addition, working in partnership with the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, the organisation uses major events to increase awareness of KwaZulu-Natal and its offerings, and so increase visitor numbers.
“These events, by their nature, bring media interest which provides us with a cost effective means to showcase the province.
“Since the beginning of the year, we have hosted two international golfing events, being the Volvo Golf Champions and the inaugural World Pro-Am SA. There has been the Midmar Mile and the Dusi Canoe Marathon, and then, just a few weeks ago, the glittering Metro FM Awards.
“All this adds up to millions of Rands being spent in our province, as people come to KwaZulu-Natal to participate in, or attend, the events,” said Khoza.
Increasing foreign arrivals
Globally, over one billion people are now travelling internationally. However, it is said that two thirds of the world’s population is not yet travelling and a key focus for the province will be on entering these new markets.
“The emerging economies, such as the BRIC countries and of course our own continent, are a key growth area for us. Through the recent introduction of direct flights from Zimbabwe and Zambia to Durban, we have seen an increase in the number of visitors from these regions.” said Khoza.
Khoza went on to explain that the traditional markets of the UK, USA and Germany remained strong and have seen marginal growth. The key for these markets is retention and sustainability.
Having experienced a successful Christmas season, the Easter season is the next peak. “April will give us two bites at the pie as school holidays break early in the month, whilst Easter is a couple of weeks later,” said Khoza.
In addition to a host of beach events and activities along the province’s coastline, the renowned music festival, Splashy Fen, will be celebrating its 25th year.
“Held over the Easter weekend in the Underberg area, Splashy Fen is an institution in KwaZulu-Natal and is the longest running annual music festival in the country. “It is also one of the few festivals where you can enjoy an incredible array of South Africa’s musical talent and I believe the line-up for this year’s event is extra special, given its milestone quarter-century.
“Of course I also have to add that the days of no water or ablution facilities are a thing of the past. I believe that nowadays there is even four-star tented accommodation with every amenity possible, for those who like their comfort.”
About Tourism KwaZulu-Natal
Tourism KwaZulu-Natal was established in 1996 and is responsible for the development, promotion and marketing of tourism into and within the province; both domestically and internationally. The organisation is an entity that reports to the provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism.
For more information visit www.zulu.org.za