Durban’s international airport experienced a phenomenal festive period with record number moving through its doors.
December 2019 saw the highest volume of passengers in the history of King Shaka International Airport, with 93% of passengers coming from our domestic regions. What’s interesting about this is that the bulk of our regional visitors are local, and this number has seen an increase of 12% since December 2018. Short-term or ‘day’ tourism is a goldmine due to sheer volume alone. 2.1 million people visited Durban’s beaches to celebrate the 2020 new year yielding a potential R2.1 billion injection into our local economy, if each visitor spends only a single rand. As South Africa’s 2nd largest regional economy in terms of GDP, KZN is responsible for R16 out of every R100 generated by our national economy.
With an ever-growing local tourism market many have realised the value of this burgeoning market and have moved to capitalise on these opportunities. Many investors have opted to invest in property in new growth areas like the Sibaya Coastal Precinct in KwaZulu-Natal. Charles Thompson of Devmco Group, one of the pioneering developers in the Sibaya Coastal Precinct shares his thoughts on this, “Investors are seeing the fruits of their labour during the December high season. Those who have purchased units at OceanDune and Pebble Beach, with the express intention of holiday letting, saw 100% occupancy for at least 2 weeks of the period. 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. Some other savvy buyers have opted for flexibility of use afforded by letting platforms like Airbnb; they can personally make use of their unit, or even live it when they want and then list the unit for holiday letting during high season and benefit from the additional income stream through this.”
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.
South Africa has a positive tourism balance with the rest of the world; foreign tourists spend more money in South Africa than South African tourists spend abroad. Tourism in South Africa directly accounted for 2.7% or R2.35 billion of our nominal GDP (Gross Domestic Product)of R1. 288 trillion for 2019.
Tourism is one of the keys to unlocking economic growth for South Africa, with job creation being one of the cascading benefits of this- one in every 22 working South Africans are employed in the tourism sector.
Charles Thompson from Devmco Group, “Tourism is undoubtedly a catalyst for job creation; and South Africa is Africa’s largest tourism economy therefore by creating opportunities for tourists to want to come to South Africa, we are also creating opportunities for job creation. While tourism is an economic driver, we also need to foster foreign investment via individual investors; and destinations like the Sibaya Coastal Precinct set the precedent for the future of development on our North Coast in line with future city models seen abroad.”
As a holiday destination, 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. 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 KZN has undoubtedly been boosted by several international flight routes between King Shaka International Airport and other major global destinations, which include a direct London to Durban leg operated by British Airways; Emirates’ twice daily direct Durban to Dubai flights and Qatar Airways’ direct Durban to Qatar leg. These direct flights are invaluable in positioning the province as the 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.