Five KwaZulu-Natal tourism product owners have returned from India, the province’s key travel market, all spiced up and filled with keen anticipation that the number of tourists to KZN from the Asian subcontinent will grow exponentially.
Following an almost two-year lull in travel and hospitality activities due to the pandemic, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) is now back on the podium as the country’s number one domestic tourism destination and is committed to defending its market share, whilst implementing new and innovative ways to continue to reclaim its international tourist numbers.
Platforms like the India Trade Show are critical for tourism business owners to create networks, showcase their tourism products and clinch business deals that will begin to stimulate more travel back to KZN from the India market.
Tourism KZN’s strategy is very clear as the organisation wants to start repackaging and selling tourism products and get their international key source markets back on track.
The destination marketing organisation is confident that all the work that they have done in the past, will make it easier to attract international travellers back to KZN.
The growth of the tourism sector will contribute immensely to the economic growth, sustained employment, and spatial equity in KZN.
The India Trade Show KZN is one of the important international marketing platforms that were identified by South African Tourism.
KZN-based tourism business owners that travelled to India were Syavaya Group; African Wild Travel; Wild 5 Adventures; Shark Cage Diving KZN and Kunene Tours. These business owners said their travel trade counterparts in India were blown away by the wide range of tourism products and attractions that KZN has to offer all through the year. Many indicated they will make on-site familiarisation visits soon and have asked for itineraries to be prepared for their clients.
Lizeka Shandu, Managing Director of African Wild Travel, said she returned to Durban with excitement that there is huge potential in receiving business from India and she was already busy putting together fresh itineraries for the Indian market visiting KZN.
“Businesses in KZN need to reassure the regional tourists and international travellers that KZN is still a warm and hospitable destination that is safe to travel and is open for business,” she said.
Paul Jefferys, Owner of Wild 5 Adventures, said the trade show was an eye-opener and had far exceeded his expectations.
“The trade shows were intense, target market-orientated and focused. Our KZN products and services brought value to the Indian market and many of the delegates were extremely interested in what we had to offer in KZN.
“We travelled across India in eight days taking nine flights and meeting in four cities, showcasing our products and services at seven trade shows.
“I advise other KZN SMME’s and business owners not to isolate their business in KZN as we need to get onto more South African and International travel and tourism markets,” he said.
Jefferys added that this was a great opportunity and platform to use as many in the Indian market did not know of all the wonderful and thrilling activities KZN has to offer.
John Miller, owner of Shark Cage Diving KZN said this trade show has created a huge interest for KZN and a large number from the Indian market are keen to visit KZN to explore the top tourist destinations and adventure activity sites.
“It was uplifting to see well-established businesses representing KZN at the India Trade Show,” he said.
In 2018, SA welcomed 93 428 arrivals from India and 95 621 in 2019. The India market contributed close to R1.5 billion to SA’s tourism economy and a 12% growth rate in 2019.
The total number of arrivals from India to KZN was 8 552 in 2019, and Tourism KZN is committed to getting back this market share and possibility surpass it as there is a much bigger appetite to travel now more than ever.
The easing of travel restrictions will allow TKZN to showcase some of the provincial offerings in many more international platforms.
Over the past two years, Tourism KZN has continued to keep in touch with international partners in key source markets to ensure that KZN continues to be top of mind.
As more countries open their borders, Tourism KZN will have more face-to-face interactions that constitute the backbone of tourism. Tourism KZN’s plan is to roll out similar engagements in a few of our key international markets like the UK, Germany, France, and the USA.