DURBAN DIRECT WELCOMES HOME AFFAIRS VISA RELAXATION STANCE
The Department of Home Affairs decision to waiver visa requirements for Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and New Zealand has been hailed by Durban Direct co-Chair, Mr Hamish Erskine, as a 'major plus' for increased tourist and business traveller traffic to Durban and KwaZulu-Natal.
He was reacting to the announcement by the Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi that nationals from these four, of the seven countries to which he granted visa-free status in his Budget Vote speech earlier this month, would be able to travel to South Africa without visas immediately.
The seven countries that will shortly no longer need visas to travel to South Africa are:
United Arab Emirates
Sao Tome and Principe
"This is indeed good news for us with regard to tourist and business visitors and will lead to increased travel from these countries, especially in view of the air connectivity we enjoy with the Middle East via both Emirates and Qatar airlines," Mr Erskine said.
Qatar Airways has already introduced the larger Airbus A350-900 aircraft on its four times weekly schedule into Durban increasing the number of passengers that can now fly on the Durban-Doha route.
Relaxing visa requirements eases access to the country, which is one of the key pillars of the National Tourism Sector Strategy (2016-20126) to boost international visitors, stimulate the tourism sector and create more jobs. It states that even with the best tourism branding, marketing and product the tourism sector will see little growth if access to the country is restrictive.
More importantly for Durban Direct, is that increasing international passengers leads to additional flights and airlines flying to King Shaka International Airport (KISA), which has a spin-off for the Dube Cargo Terminal and Air Services divisions.
“We have seen consistent overall passenger growth since last year. International passenger numbers through KISA grew by a record 42% month-on-month between November and December 2018 alone.
“This upward trend had continued into 2019, and we recently observed international year-on-year passenger numbers increase by 28% and 18% in June and July respectively.
”Our cargo tonnage throughput at Dube TradePort’s Cargo Terminal has followed closely on the heels of passenger numbers, with international airfreight growing by 8.15% in June and 17.47% in July 2019.