As global tourism continues to recover from the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN) has launched an ambitious campaign to reinvigorate the province’s international tourism sector. With the European summer season on the horizon, TKZN has embarked on a series of initiatives aimed at enticing tourists from key European markets.
One significant effort involves engaging with top tour operators across various European countries to secure deals that will draw international tourists to KwaZulu-Natal. Recently, TKZN, in collaboration with South African Tourism (SAT), participated in a Northern European travel roadshow and a five-day exhibition at Vakantiebeurs in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands and Belgium, ranking fourth and fifth respectively among European tourist markets for KZN, have emerged as crucial targets for the province’s tourism revitalization efforts.
‘In-country initiatives and activations play a pivotal role in international tourism marketing,’ emphasized TKZN Acting Chief Executive, Mr. Sibusiso Gumbi. ‘They offer us direct engagement with international buyers and tour operators, providing invaluable insights into the needs and perceptions of our target markets. Platforms like these enable us to advocate for KZN’s inclusion in international brochures distributed by travel agencies worldwide, positioning our province as a must-visit destination.’
Gumbi stressed the significance of nurturing relationships within the tourism sector, highlighting the upcoming participation of TKZN in prominent global events such as ITB Berlin and WTM London. “To establish KZN as a global player, it’s imperative for us to be present where key decisions are made,” he affirmed.
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, KwaZulu-Natal’s international tourist numbers have begun to show signs of recovery, with a notable 22% increase recorded in the first half of 2023 compared to the previous year.
Recognizing the importance of business and conference tourism alongside leisure travel, KwaZulu-Natal’s Convention Bureau (KZNCB) will join forces with TKZN at Meetings Africa 2024 to showcase the province as a premier destination for meetings and conferences. This event, which attracts hundreds of international buyers from across Africa and beyond, provides a platform to attract both large-scale business events and smaller conferences, ensuring broad economic benefits across the province.
‘Securing mega business events and smaller conferences in our smaller towns is integral to spreading the benefits of tourism across KwaZulu-Natal,’ Gumbi remarked, underscoring the province’s commitment to leveraging tourism as a driver of economic growth and development.