KwaZulu Natal is predicting a 33% increase in tourism numbers over the high season, with average accommodation occupancy rates of 69% and visitor numbers of 845 000, bringing in R3.6 billion (€175m) in revenue.
The province, which remains the top domestic tourism destination in South Africa, anticipates that 52 000 international tourists will make up the overall arrivals over the December and January high season.
These projections, which comfortably surpass the 571 000 arrivals and R2.4bn (€117m) recorded over the high season in 2022/23, were revealed at the launch of Tourism KZN’s Summer Season Campaign on November 24, at the Mpenjati Nature Reserve in the province’s Ugu District.
Thandeka Ellenson, Acting Head of KZN’s Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, said: “I am pleased to note that the total number of international tourists to our beautiful province has risen by 22% in the first six months of 2023 compared with the same time last year. From January to June last year, we welcomed 258 411 international tourists, while this year the province welcomed 316 468 international tourists,” said Ellenson.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the provincial authority tasked with managing nature reserves and parks, also recorded an 18.7% increase in international arrivals in 2023. Acting CEO Sihle Mkhize said the agency had embarked on a number of initiatives to elevate the visitor experience.
“To improve our visitor experience, Ezemvelo recently awarded a contract for a service provider to manage all its restaurant facilities and ensure that visitors enjoy world-class dining. The entity also continues to roll out a range of infrastructure maintenance and renovation projects to keep accommodation at high standards and ensure road access to and within reserves is good,” said Mkhize.
Acting Chief Executive of the KZN Sharks Board, Harry Mbambo, said the organisation had intensified measures to enhance beach safety.
“Our bather protection services remain vital in promoting the beach tourism of the KZN province. We’d like to remind all visitors to take the necessary safety precautions whilst swimming. This includes swimming at protected beaches, of which there is a wide variety stretching from Richards Bay in the north to Port Edward in the south,” he said.
Durban’s Nelson Mandela Cruise Terminal – which was officially opened this week – as well as the arrival of MSC’s biggest cruise ship in South Africa, the Splendida, have been major milestones for KZN’s tourism sector this season. With the Splendida using Durban as its home port, the company expects 100 000 passengers to come to Durban during the 2023/24 cruise season. This figure does not include other liners and ships visiting KZN ports.