The City’s tourism sector is bouncing back after several setbacks recently.
Durban Tourism has forecast between 2.9 million and 3.5 million domestic tourist visits to the City in 2023, and be- tween 169 000 and 200 000 international visitors this year.
This is welcome news as businesses in the tourism sector are recovering following several challenges including COVID-19, civil unrest, as well as the devastating floods last year.
Durban Tourism has been working hard to grow Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibition (MICE) business and corporate travel this year.
Plans to market Durban as a choice MICE destination also form part of the Durban Tourism Visitor Marketing Strategy for 2022 – 2026.
The organisation said it would be partnering with major convention centers, the Durban Convention Bureau, the Durban Chamber of Commerce, as well as international and national event organisers, to achieve its goals.
About 40 percent of visitors to Durban are classified as business travelers. Some of the biggest conferences and events venues in the City include the award-winning Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (Durban ICC), the Durban Exhibition Centre, and the Olive Convention Centre.
Air access is another priority- ty. Over the past decade, the Durban Direct air access team has helped to secure nine international and four domestic routes.
In the short-to-medium term, Durban Tourism said they wanted to help re-estab- lish more of King Shaka International Airports’ pre-COVID route networks, specifically air links to Zambia, Mauritius, and London.
“Durban Direct has in the past decade proven to be effective at working with airlines to deliver air connectivity.
It has established relationships with key decision-makers in the aviation sector, helping to streamline engagement and meeting the market intelligence and marketing and operational needs of airlines,” said eThekwini Mayor Councillor Mxolisi Kaunda said.
He added: “Zambia, Mauritius, and London are markets that have shown strong demand in the past. Durban Direct’s route development team is working together with airlines to re-establish these routes.”
According to Durban Tourism, Proflight will launch a direct service between Durban and Lusaka around April this year.
MICE business has recovered to around 80 percent of pre-COVID levels.
Mayor Kaunda said: “There was a great pick-up when the COVID-19 regulations were lifted, which resulted in the hosting of major events which contributed to the sector’s recovery immensely.”
(EXTRACTED FROM EThekwini_Weekly Bulletin Issue 319 – PAGE 3)