Tourism, a key driver of our economy

Tourism is one of the key drivers of our economy and Durban has consistently managed to maintain its place as SA’s playground with record number of tourists visiting our shores over the festive period.

At the African Travel Indaba last year, President Ramaphosa said that tourism is the new gold. What that means is that tourism is one of the keys to unlocking economic growth for countries like South Africa. The more foreign currency we can bring in through tourism and tourism -related industries, the better. If we continue to attract tourists and get them to spend more of their money here, we will see a host of benefits, including job creation, cascade from this.

South Africa, as a tourist destination, has a positive tourism balance with the rest of the world. That means foreign tourists spend more money in South Africa than South African tourists spend elsewhere in the world. Tourism in South Africa accounts for 2.7% of our GDP (Gross Domestic Product); to put in into perspective our nominal GDP for 2019 reached $87.2 billion, and if we do the sums, tourism generated R2.35 billion of that. Knowing this, means that we should be jumping at every opportunity to make not just Durban, but South Africa, a tourist-centric destination.

Statistics from this time last year reveal that almost 30% of our tourists into SA hailed from the UK with Germany close behind accounting for 23%. International tourism to Durban and wider KZN has been given a boost by the new international flight routes between King Shaka International Airport and other major global destinations. As of today, British Airways operates a direct London to Durban leg; Emirates operates a direct Durban to Dubai leg twice a day and Qatar Airways flies direct to Durban. These direct flights make access to KZN easy and position the province as a gateway to South Africa. During our peak festive season, most of the airlines at King Shaka International Airport operated at almost total capacity with a reported 11% increase in the number of international passengers in comparison to the same period in 2018. December 2019 had the highest volume of passengers in the history of King Shaka International Airport, with 93% of passengers coming from domestic regions- an 12% increase since December 2018. With the help of Durban Direct, more and more international routes to and from Durban are being unlocked, helping to place King Shaka Airport as one of the continent’s preferred airports for passengers and cargo.

Let’s not overlook the power of local and regional tourism, even ‘day’ tourists or those who stay in our city short-term. This is a powerful group just by sheer volume. 2.1 million people visited Durban’s beaches to celebrate the 2020 new year. If each one of those 2.1 million people spent only R1 on something whether it be refreshments or transport fare that equates to R2.1 billion rand into KZN in a matter of a day or so- a huge boost to our economy. KZN is South Africa’s 2nd largest regional economy in terms of GDP, and for every R100 generated by our national economy, KZN is responsible for R16 of that which is roughly 16% of the total.

KZN, and the North Coast of Durban seems to exert a pull over the rest of the country and our year-round warm climate and easy beach access makes it perennially attractive. Many investors, who have opted to invest in property in new growth areas like the Sibaya Coastal Precinct, are seeing the fruits of their labour. With 100% occupancy in some of the holiday letting units at Pebble Beach and OceanDune, within the Sibaya Coastal Precinct, investors would be wise to capitalise on the opportunity to earn an income bolstered by the influx of seasonal tourism and business travel that occurs throughout the year.

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