In an historic start to South Africa’s 2023/24 cruise season, President Cyril Ramaphosa officially cut the ribbon to mark the opening of Durban Port’s world-class R330 million (€16.1m) Nelson Mandela Cruise Terminal on Wednesday.
Developed by MSC Cruises and its black economic empowerment partner African Armada Consortium together with Transnet National Ports Authority (NPA), the joint venture, operating as the KwaZulu Cruise Terminal Limited, is the country’s first public-private partnership in the cruise industry.
The 6 000sqm, energy-efficient cruise terminal can handle 4 000 passengers a day. The project created 10 000 construction jobs with most staff sourced in Durban and the rest of the country.
Speaking during the launch, Ramaphosa said the opening of the terminal was an important step towards restoring Durban’s position, alongside Cape Town, as a premier cruise tourism destination in the US$174 billion global cruise tourism market.
“I want to congratulate the Mediterranean Shipping Company and Africa Armada Consortium on the launch of this world-class facility, which has already contributed significantly to the expansion of the local tourism sector,” said Ramaphosa.
He said last year’s cruise season had injected an estimated R1.2 billion (€58.7m) into the economy of the Western Cape alone.
“We want to see similar numbers being attracted to KwaZulu Natal. This terminal will play an important part in doing so.”
Cruise terminals as gateways
He said the strategic goal was to offer modern cruise terminals that were a gateway to the rest of the country and the continent.
“Port cruise terminals provide a multi-modal connectivity to the region and the rest of the world, thus contributing to the growth of the tourism industry. This venture is, as we know, part of a wider national plan to upgrade, improve and revitalise our country’s ports.”
He added that the NPA’s R157 billion (€7.6bn) KZN Logistics Hub Programme to expand the ports of Durban and Richards Bay’s capacity was expected to create 570 000 jobs over the next 15 years. Some of the infrastructure projects in the pipeline focus on the five precincts of Island View, Container, Bayhead, Maydon Wharf and the Point and Recreation precinct.
He said Transnet was also in the process of finalising a memorandum of agreement with the municipality, the province and Ithala Bank for the development of the Durban Bay Waterfront.
“This will encompass the overhaul and redevelopment of the marina and its transformation into a world-class economic, tourism, water sports and recreation asset … With the commitment of private-sector partners like MSC, we will be able to fully realise our aspirations for economic growth, job creation and socio-economic development,” said Ramaphosa.
MSC Cruises Executive Chairman and Chairman of KwaZulu Cruise Terminal,
Pierfrancesco Vago, said the new cruise terminal would contribute to the growth of cruise tourism. “MSC Cruises arrived in South Africa in the early 1990s and since then, thousands of cruise guests have discovered the beauty of the KwaZulu Natal province and beyond.
Access to pax from over 100 nationalities
The new Nelson Mandela Cruise Terminal in Durban will give access to passengers from more than 100 nationalities, and they will enjoy the unique experience we offer on board and visits to the beautiful destinations we have developed at Portuguese Island and Pomene in Mozambique.
“It has been 10 years since the public-private partnership was initially conceived, the first of its kind for the east coast of South Africa. We were given the privilege, together with our black empowerment partner, to create new infrastructure that supports the expansion of the South African cruise tourism, and the new terminal will be welcomed by all cruise companies from around the world.”
Nelson Mandela Foundation Director of Archive and Dialogue, Verne Harris, welcomed the partnership that led to the naming of the cruise terminal.
“Madiba inspires us to never give up on our journey or on our country. Don’t give up on the dream Madiba had for this country, the continent, and the world. We look forward to the continuing partnership with you and for ways of adding value,” said Harris.
MSC Cruises’ parent MSC Group is now the largest shipping investor in the country.
MSC Group set up the Shosholoza Academy in 2019 in South Africa to train young people in hospitality skills that they can use on its fleet of 22 cruise ships. A total of 5 000 new crew members will join the line’s vessels in the coming months.
MSC Cruises South Africa MD, Ross Volk, said the company was fully committed to help drive the local tourism industry and create jobs. He said the arrival of the MSC Splendida in Durban on Friday – the shipping line’s largest and most modern ship to serve the South African market – illustrated this commitment.