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KWAZULU-NATAL FOCUSES ON INVESTMENT POTENTIAL AT WORLD TRAVEL MARKET AFRICA

TKZN will continue its international tourism drive in Cape Town this week at World Travel Market (WTM) Africa. It will position the province as a tourism investment destination as it presents a multi-billion-rand range of development opportunities to investors, funding agencies and financial institutions during the WTM Tourism Investment Forum.

WTM Africa, which begins on Wednesday 10 April 2024 at the Cape Town ICC is attended by leading travel trade professionals from several international markets. These important stakeholders play a vital role in selling and packaging destinations across the globe.

According to the event organisers, the 2023 the trade show saw 63% new buyers among the mix of travel agents, wholesalers, and private travel arrangers with purchasing power.

Noting the importance of shows like WTM Africa, Acting CEO of Tourism KZN, Mr. Sibusiso Gumbi said: “To effectively market and promote KZN internationally, TKZN must influence all levels of the travel value chain. Whether we are at international travel exhibitions or hosting major travel companies and agents in KZN, we are building meaningful relationships to ensure that the province is featured in travel packages and that agents have the knowledge to sell KZN to their clients.”

These efforts have had a positive effect on the number of international visitors to KwaZulu- Natal (KZN). Like the rest of South Africa, KZN has enjoyed a substantial increase in its overseas visitors over the past three years. From 2020 to 2023, the province has recorded a 65% increase in international visitors with a 14% increase over the past year to reach 650 000.

“Key international markets, including the UK, USA, eSwatini, the Netherlands and Germany, have fuelled this growth. This performance is the fruit of the province’s international marketing efforts. However, we still have 19% growth to reach our 2019 international numbers. Thus, the need for us to remain aggressive in lobbying international tour operators in these various platforms,” said Mr Gumbi.

TKZN’s international marketing strategy has laid a strong foundation for international tourism to flourish, and we are now looking for growth. However, to be competitive, we need to keep pace with evolving trends and know exactly what travellers’ expectations are as we continue to position KZN as the must-visit province.

By attending international trade shows such as WTM London, Vakantiebeurs in the Netherlands and roadshows in India, the entity has gained valuable insights from leading tour operators. This information feeds into its international marketing recovery plan. This year at WTM Africa, Tourism KZN is exhibiting alongside partner Durban Direct, which champions direct air access to Durban’s King Shaka International Airport. Durban Direct will be meeting with potential airlines, including Air Mauritius which announced its intended return to King Shaka Airport earlier this year.

Also, at the TKZN pavilion, will be Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Trade and Investment KZN (TIKZN) as well as other outstanding KZN tourism products such as mFulawozi, Isibindi Lodges, Coastlands Resorts and Gooderson Leisure Group (hotels and resorts). TKZN has also sponsored two of its Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMME) tourism businesses – CNT Travel and Loxtion Tours – to share exhibition space at the TKZN stand at WTM Africa.

“It is important for us to ensure that we provide market access opportunities for smaller and emerging tourism entrepreneurs. Events like WTM Africa serve as a platform where our SMMEs can engage with international buyers to secure deals that help them grow their businesses,” said Mr Gumbi. Recently TKZN held its 2024 Travel Academy which was attended by 24 influential inbound tour operators (wholesalers) from South Africa and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The tour operators noted that they had benefitted a great deal from this streamlined and focused workshop “It is rich and good to be on the ground with the people providing this information. We can speak with them and build relationships with them, so we are able to contact the trade directly. “Platforms like these are critical for us as a destination marketing agency, as we continue our work to ensure that the province is included on international travel itineraries,” concluded Mr. Gumbi.



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