Reginiting KwaZulu-Natal — a province on its way to tourism recovery 

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Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, in partnership with Durban Tourism, hosted a business breakfast to kickstart the Africa’s Travel Indaba, where KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Mr Ravi Pillay highlighted the key tourism developments that are in the pipeline for KZN.

Whilst the KZN tourism sector recovers from the challenges posed by Covid-19 and the recent devastation from the floods, the province is forging ahead in its preparation to welcome the world back to the Zulu Kingdom. All systems have been put in place to ensure that tourists feel welcome and safe in the beautiful province.

Mr Ravi Pillay.

KZN MEC for Economic, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Mr Ravi Pillay said despite the continuing pandemic, the unrest, the floods and a weakened operating environment, tourism survived the past two years, and is now ready to be reignited for the benefit of all in the province, our country, and the continent.

“Tourism plays a hugely important role in assisting our country to make its mark on the map of Africa and the globe.

“I am confident that tourism is ready to bounce back with a bang, and to reclaim its coveted position as a worthy contributor to employment. The province is ready to revitalise the tourism value and supply chains and look forward to the economic benefits of the various upstream and downstream activities which tourism supports.

“In these past two years the world has learnt new ways of doing tourism safely. Many product owners have used the down time to refresh and revitalize their offerings. Some operators have used the time to develop entirely new facilities in anticipation of a resumption in tourism,” he said.

Pillay added that Capital Zimbali in the North Coast town of Ballito was taken over by the Capital Group who further poured millions of rands to get it up and running after it shut down due to the travel restrictions caused by Covid-19.

“Babanango Game Reserve is a partnership with communities and trusts and rehabilitated land is being used to bring back endemic animal species to an area that has not seen wildlife for many years. A true community project, the communities benefit directly from leasing out their land and the reserve and will be showcasing the Big 5 by September 2022, which will be one of the most exciting safari destinations in South Africa.

“There is a new seven-star establishment called the Homestead at Nambiti Game Reserve, near Ladysmith, comprising super-luxury eco-lodges with a solar farm that powers almost everything.

“mFulaWozi Wilderness has been recently refurbished with the Mthembu Lodge and its private suites that have been carefully hand-built by members of the Mthembu clan, stone by stone,” he said.

Phindile Makwakwa.

Phindile Makwakwa, Acting Chief Executive Officer of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal said that while the province is on the road to recovery, the organisation needs to go back to their source markets.

“The priority for the organisation is to reignite those source markets into KZN and work very closely with key hub heads to make the province a top tourism destination.

“Tourism KZN has a full 360° marketing and promotion plan for the province which includes several interventions, both in the domestic markets and at various international platforms.

“The organisation is focusing on the international market, as it’s 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 start of the pandemic, KZN has experienced a drastic drop in arrivals from a variety of our key international markets. However, as the world begins to open up, the organisation is engaging with our tourism partners from India to start reviving this market for the province,” she said.

Makwakwa added that even during the lockdowns, Tourism KZN did a lot to keep the destination top-of-mind around the world.

“Tourism KZN is confident that with the programmes that are in place to revive the global markets, the organisation will begin to see an increase in tourists’ arrivals from all over the world, coming back to the Zulu Kingdom,” she concluded with confidence.