DURBAN, May 8 – Durban’s King Shaka International Airport has secured a direct route to Heathrow Airport in London via carrier British Airways, officials said at the opening of Africa’s Travel Indaba on Wednesday.
The direct route will cut out time-consuming connecting flights, often via Dubai and Johannesburg and is expected to commence on October 29, with three flights a week, via the Boeing 747- 8 Dreamliner. Tickets for the maiden flight will be available from Thursday.
At a stakeholders breakfast meeting to open the Indaba, KwaZulu-Natal’s member of the executive council for economic development Sihle Zikalala said the province was changing for the better.
“In 10 years time this will be a different city and province,” he said. “This (direct route) will anchor trade opportunities between Durban and London and hopefully contribute to the growth of the economy,” said Zikalala.
“About 10,000 passengers flying indirectly to London will now fly direct.”
The province was working to position itself as Africa’s leading tourism provider, he said.
In order to reach this goal, eight objectives had been set: increasing foreign arrivals, growing KZN’s domestic tourism share, increasing tourism spend, reducing seasonality, increasing geographic spread, promoting responsible tourism, promoting transformation and providing an enabling environment for tourism growth.
“By 2022, we want R65 billion in tourism through various projects,” said Zikalala.
The province had several key tourism projects that would be utilised to boost the economy and create jobs, he added.
This included Durban Film City with an investment value of R7.5billion, the four and five star Port Durnford Resort south of Durban with an investment value of R350 million, the St Lucia Eco-Hotel with an investment value of R88 million and the KwaMbonambi Hotel on the North Coast with an investment value of R120 million.
Dube Trade Port’s investment value was set at R13 billion and Virginia Airport development stood at 6.1billion. The province was also seeking to construct the Durban Iconic Tower, which Zikalala said would be the tallest in the southern hemisphere. There would also be extensions to current developments such as Oceans Umhlanga, Beverly Hills Hotel and Tsogo Sun.
The three-day Indaba has attracted more than 7,000 delegates from all over the world.