Tourism KwaZulu Natal (TKZN) is preparing for ITB Berlin 2019, which takes place from March 6 to 10, to network with exhibitors and contacts, as well as to increase business for the province, which is eager to solidify its presence among German tourists, one of KZN’s main source markets.

The annual ITB Berlin trade show showcases a variety of products and services to more than 10 000 exhibitors from more than 180 countries.

Phindile Makwakwa, the acting CEO of TKZN, commented:  “KZN has embraced the global and fast-moving pace of connecting people and cities with the recent introduction of direct British Airways flights to Durban from London. ITB Berlin allows the European market like Germany, which is one of our top three international source markets, to make their travel seamless. German visitors mostly travel to the province for leisure, rather than business and we are confident our presence at ITB sends a signal that we are back to show them more of what we have on offer.”

KZN’s ideal weather and leisure safari packages make the province a prime holiday destination, and according to TKZN, with the strong euro, the province is top of mind for most tour operators in Germany.

“ITB Berlin is a great platform to once again gain access and meet up with our various trade partners, to drive awareness about our destination and encourage them to include KZN in their brochures and packages.

“The exhibition is also attended by trade tourism buyers from other countries and this platform provides us with a bigger network of buyers so we can ultimately grow our international tourism arrivals,” added Makwakwa.

TKZN works closely with a number of partners in the German market including Dertour, Thomas Cook, South African Airways, Tourvest and Knecht Reisen to make in-roads into this market, with an aim of driving awareness of the destination.

The German market mainly travels for heritage, scenery and wildlife experiences which are some of KZN’s main tourism offerings, presenting  significant potential to grow this market, therefore it is important for KZN to maintain its presence in this market to drive more numbers into the province, said  Makwakwa.

TKZN already has strong existing partnerships with well-known tour operators such as Thomas Cook in the German market, and ITB Berlin serves as a platform to find new and innovative ways to ensure growth in this market.

The other top five international source markets for KZN are the UK, US, Netherlands, France and India.

Statistics show that 48 958 Germans visited KZN in 2016, boosting the local tourism economy and helping to sustain jobs in the hospitality sector.

The German market is the world’s third leading generator of international tourism expenditure, accounting for US$79.9 billion in 2017, and is South Africa’s third most important long-haul market.

Between 2014 and 2016, there was a 13.5% increase in German tourists to the country. They also contributed the third highest in tourism revenues to South Africa in 2016, with R4.4 billion (€273m) recorded, after the UK with R7.5bn (€465m) and the US with R6.2bn (€384m).

 “With close to a million (German) tourists already coming to SA, we want to ensure that a bigger slice of those tourists also come to KZN. We are a year-round holiday destination. This presents us with a huge potential to continue to grow our important markets all over the world,” said Makwakwa.

According to TKZN, research in previous years has revealed that many German visitors are repeat holiday-makers to the country.

The majority of Germans (58%) still use the traditional method of booking their long-haul holidays through retail travel agencies. TKZN will be working closely with three major groups in Germany, as well as SAA, in order to make inroads into the growing German market.

According to TKZN, German visitors stay on average a week in KZN, enjoying its heritage, scenery and wildlife experiences.