Durban has a bumper year for visitors

6 February 2015

Durban witnessed what is arguably its most successful tourism year in 2014, with an increase in visitor numbers of 12.8% over 2013, according to the eThekwini municipality.

In total, 7.4 million people visited the warm East Coast city, with a total direct spend of R19.2-billion and 95 396 jobs created and sustained over the year, the municipality reported on 4 February. With indirect spend added, the tally was R32.4-billion.

Durban proved to be a big draw card for domestic and international visitors over the festive period, which showed an average growth of more than 20% in visitor numbers, with 400 000 more tourists than the previous year. Over the six weeks of December to mid-January 2015, Durban had 1.45 million visitors with a total direct spend of R3.1-billion and 15 492 jobs created; some were sustained.

The hospitality industry employs 95 396 people.

In terms of market segmentation, Durban recorded a 15% increase in foreign visitors from the United States, 12% from Australia, 13% from Zimbabwe and 10% from Zambia. Gauteng was again a key source market, constituting 49% of all visitor arrivals.

Durban mayor James Nxumalo said the city was excited to be presenting these ground-breaking statistics, which had far exceeded all projections and reached a successful peak for the city. “The positive outcome of the research is encouraging and reflects the hard work done by the industry to promote tourism and ensure Durban is a top-of-mind destination.”

Durban Tourism head Philip Sithole added: “2014 has proved to be one of our most successful years. This is after we launched a number of campaigns aimed at marketing the Durban destination to both local and international markets. Most notable was our ‘Taking Durban to the World’ strategy, which aimed at boosting both international and domestic tourism.

“We have already started seeing return in investment in terms of achieving the objectives of our campaigns and if you look at the number of accolades that we have received in the past year alone, most recently the New York Times listing Durban in the top 10 places to visit for 2015, it is evident that we are on the right track.”

The list was released in January. Durban is number seven, and the third city on the list.

Durban was named one of the New7Wonder cities of the world in December 2014, out of more than 1 200 nominees from 220 different countries.

In addition, in 2012, the municipality entered into a two-year partnership with National Geographic to position Durban as a “must visit” world-class tourist destination. The partnership ended in June 2014.

Under it, National Geographic implemented a global campaign that included print, digital and television. The TV campaign included the production of three 60-second vignettes and two documentaries on Durban.

Speaking this week, Nxumalo said the National Geographic campaign had reached 497 million viewers in the past two years.

In early December, Durban Tourism, the city’s official tourism arm, said it would spend almost R22-million in a second partnership, over three years, with the National Geographic Society to market the city worldwide.

As part of it, National Geographic’s Traveller magazine would commission an in-depth feature article on Durban and potentially, KwaZulu-Natal. There would also be an editorial supplement on “The Best of Durban”, and a 12-page feature for the USA Traveller magazine and tablet editions about Durban and KwaZulu-Natal.

Themes and topics would include sporting events, culture and heritage, cuisine, lifestyle, architecture and multi-culturalism.

SAinfo reporter