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South African province KwaZulu-Natal is seeking to double its UK visitor numbers as its largest city gears up to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Durban will be the first African city to hold the sporting event, having previously hosted the semi-final of the 2010 Fifa World Cup and considered an Olympic Games bid.
Ndabo Khoza, chief executive officer of tourism KwaZulu-Natal, told Travel Weekly he believed the higher profile of the province combined with several new flight options starting in December could double the number of UK arrivals from 48,000 last year to around 100,000 by 2022.
He said: “It’s quite exciting because for the next seven years, we have got a real platform to continue marketing our city. We are going to do a lot of work in the UK to raise the profile of KwaZulu-Natal.
"At the moment, we tend not to be the first place for people to visit, we focus a lot on repeat visitors, but hosting the games will raise our profile so we are going to see tourists who haven’t been to South Africa before and who would otherwise not make their first trip Durban.
“Between now and 2022, there’s going to be huge growth in economic development and additional room stock, not just because of the Commonwealth Games but because of growth in demand for tourism more widely. It will promote the area and create more tourism overall.”
Khoza said around 80% of the infrastructure – including the main athletic stadium and the majority of the 8,000 hotel rooms required – was already in place, and the province was already seeing a wave of hotel construction including Blythedale Coastal Resort and Tinley Manor resort. both an hour north of Durban.
A number of new flight connections are also set to begin next month, with Ethiopian Airlines flying Addis Ababa to Durban three times a week from December 16, Turkish Airlines from Istanbul to Durban with a touch-down in Johannesburg (although flying direct in May, June and July) from December 5, and Qatar Airways from Doha starting December 17. These are in addition to existing Johannesburg services from Emirates, British Airways, South African Airways and Virgin Atlantic.
The games are due to commence on July 18, 2022, to coincide with the birthday of Nelson Mandela.
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