Vi­tal sta­tis­tics

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Fast facts at your fin­ger­tips

The KwaZulu-Na­tal (KZN) Govern­ment has po­si­tioned tourism as one of the main­stay eco­nomic sec­tors with the po­ten­tial to un­leash mas­sive busi­ness and em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in a sus­tain­able fashion.

Tourism is the sec­tor that con­tin­ues to be pri­ori­tised by many na­tions of the world that have ac­knowl­edged its re­silience and im­pact on eco­nomic growth in the face of global and re­gional mar­ket tur­bu­lence.

This is a fact at­tested to by the United Na­tion's World Tourism Or­gan­i­sa­tion's re­port, which points out that tourism is not only grow­ing rapidly in terms of the num­bers of peo­ple trav­el­ling to var­i­ous des­ti­na­tions, but also con­trib­utes sig­nif­i­cantly to the so­cio-eco­nomic well­be­ing of the host na­tions and the world in gen­eral.

Over the past 10 years this in­dus­try has grown from $6.03 tril­lion to $7.61 tril­lion last year with ad­vanced coun­tries in Europe, North Amer­ica and Asia lead­ing the pack in terms of at­tract­ing more vis­i­tors and rev­enue be­cause of their im­proved travel ser­vices and crit­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties that ap­peal to tourists. The emerg­ing economies, in­clud­ing our own con­ti­nent Africa, have also reg­is­tered con­sid­er­able growth rates, hav­ing noted the im­por­tance of in­vest­ing in tourism­re­lated in­fra­struc­ture to be able to claim their eq­ui­table slice from tourism ben­e­fits.

KZN a hol­i­day mecca

In KZN we are in­vest­ing our en­er­gies on a va­ri­ety of at­trac­tions that make the prov­ince an at­trac­tive dar­ling of vis­i­tors wish­ing to ex­plore our nat­u­ral to­po­graphic and cul­tural beauty.

The eastern seaboard of the prov­ince is renowned for its all-year round clement weather, mak­ing it a hol­i­day mecca for do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional tourists − all ea­ger to en­joy the warm In­dian Ocean.

Our sub­trop­i­cal weather pat­terns make the prov­ince very pop­u­lar with vis­i­tors from colder re­gions. Here they can ex­plore the coastal splen­dour that fea­tures warm beaches from the south coast up to the north, where it be­comes part of the United Na­tions pro­tected bio­di­ver­sity haven of iSi­man­gal­iso Wet­land Park, home to world­class game parks, such as the Um­folozi-Hluh­luwe and Tembe Ele­phant Park.

This is where trav­ellers look­ing for a unique sa­fari ex­pe­ri­ence are spoilt for choice as they get to see the Big Five and other game. Equally, those in­ter­ested in ma­rine life can catch a glimpse of var­i­ous co­ral species of fish, dol­phins, whales, sharks and gi­ant tur­tles.

The hin­ter­land equally boasts nu­mer­ous tourism at­trac­tions, such as the spec­tac­u­lar uKhahlamba-Drak­ens­berg World Her­itage Site, the plateau-shaped Mid­lands Me­an­der and the bat­tle­fields – all pro­vid­ing a unique tourism ex­pe­ri­ence. These range from en­ergy driven ac­tiv­i­ties, such as hik­ing, gorge swings, rock climb­ing, snow ski­ing and glid­ing as well as 4x4 moun­tain driv­ing through the fas­ci­nat­ing Sani Pass that links the prov­ince to neigh­bour­ing Le­sotho.

Im­prov­ing in­fra­struc­ture to boost tourism

Work­ing with stake­hold­ers, we con­tinue to im­prove our in­fra­struc­ture to en­able our tourism in­dus­try to grow in leaps and bounds.

As part of our en­deav­ours to boost tourism, we have de­cided to pri­ori­tise the up­grade of our re­gional air­ports. Just re­cently, we launched the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of the Mkhuze Air­port run­way, a move which will, with­out a doubt, see the air­port play­ing an enor­mous role in

un­leash­ing eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties for the dis­trict of uMkhanyakude.

The Mkhuze Air­port is strate­gi­cally lo­cated in the prime tourism des­ti­na­tion of the uMkhanyakude Dis­trict which has the high­est con­cen­tra­tion of game re­serves in the coun­try. These in­clude Thanda, Phinda, uMkhuze, Pon­gola, Hluh­luwe, Leop­ard Moun­tain, Rhino River, Bayete Zulu and Tembe Ele­phant Park, among oth­ers.

Within the big­ger pic­ture of the air­port de­vel­op­ment, we want to see a more in­te­grated col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach with the many pub­lic and pri­vate re­serves and lodges in the area, many of which have their own air strips, to con­sider us­ing Mkhuze Air­port as their pri­mary port of call.The air­port can serve all the re­serves and other or­gan­i­sa­tions in the area.

A prime model we fol­low is Skukuza Air­port, which serves not only the Kruger Na­tional Park but many of the other sur­round­ing re­serves, and Ezemvelo Wildlife can as­sist with this. We do not only want Mkhuze Air­port to cater for the over­flow from the Kruger Na­tional Park, but to cre­ate its own glob­ally recog­nised iden­tity, where in­ter­na­tional tourists can be flown into King Shaka In­ter­na­tional Air­port and di­rected to Mkhuze for a bet­ter sa­fari ex­pe­ri­ence.

Trans­form­ing tourism

We strongly be­lieve that it will be a fu­tile ex­er­cise for govern­ment to in­vest all its resources to im­prove the per­for­mance of tourism in our prov­ince, with­out also ad­dress­ing what should be ev­ery­one's pri­or­ity − the trans­for­ma­tion of the tourism sec­tor.

We need to trans­form this sec­tor pre­cisely be­cause it makes log­i­cal sense to get more peo­ple into the main­stream econ­omy than to have a ma­jor­ity that sits on the pe­riph­ery or only occupies the lower rungs of the econ­omy be­cause that is a recipe for dis­as­ter.

In this re­gard, in­clu­sive growth be­comes key.The World Eco­nomic Fo­rum's 2017 In­clu­sive Growth and De­vel­op­ment Re­port ar­gues that when we look at the con­cept of in­clu­sive growth, we should con­sider it as a strat­egy to in­crease the ex­tent to which the econ­omy's top-line per­for­mance is trans­lated into the bot­tom-line re­sult so­ci­ety is seek­ing, i.e., broad-based ex­pan­sion of eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity and pros­per­ity.

The task of the tourism sec­tor and, by ex­ten­sion, key play­ers in this sec­tor, is to en­sure that while we grow and de­velop this sec­tor, our ul­ti­mate ob­jec­tive is for tourism to con­trib­ute pos­i­tively to our na­tional eco­nomic per­for­mance, get our peo­ple out of poverty and, crit­i­cally, as­sist us in build­ing a na­tional demo­cratic so­ci­ety char­ac­terised by unity, equal­ity and pros­per­ity.

While our de­part­ment and Tourism KZN run pro­grammes to em­power emerg­ing black-owned tourism busi­nesses, this in­ter­ven­tion alone is not enough to ad­dress true trans­for­ma­tion in tourism. We are work­ing closely with all tourism stake­hold­ers to en­sure that there is com­mit­ment, not only with re­gard to job creation, but to en­sur­ing ac­tive and mean­ing­ful par­tic­i­pa­tion of black busi­nesses in ma­jor tourism trans­ac­tions, as well as tourism in­vest­ments made in the prov­ince.

While work is on­go­ing in trans­form­ing var­i­ous in­dus­tries within the travel and tourism sec­tor, we are pleased about the progress we have recorded in trans­form­ing the meet­ings, in­cen­tives, con­fer­ences, and ex­hi­bi­tion in­dus­try.

We will also con­tinue to seek out events that at­tempt to trans­form the tourism sec­tor through sup­port for his­tor­i­cally dis­ad­van­taged groups seek­ing to en­ter it, thereby en­sur­ing the spread of ben­e­fits from tourism-re­lated busi­nesses to ru­ral and town­ship ar­eas.

KZN MEC for Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, Tourism and En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs, Sihle

Zikalala.

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