This South African city is pinning tourism hopes on growing cruise market

Port in Durban, South Africa
Port in Durban, South Africa Copyright Durban Tourism
By Wandiswa Ntengento
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

Durban espère que sa nouvelle infrastructure portuaire attirera davantage de touristes dans la ville sud-africaine.


The global cruise tourism market is expected to be worth an estimated $17.4 billion (€15.9 billion) by 2032,  and Durban, a scenic seaside city on South Africa’s eastern coast is keen to get in on the action.

Part of the wider province of KwaZulu Natal, Durban Tourism estimates that 1.2 million tourists will visit the city this April, which is the start of high season in the region. 

To help the city cope with these arrivals, in 2021, Durban unveiled its new $10 million (€9.1 million) international terminal, which is set to accommodate an influx of domestic and international tourist passenger ships.

“Just recently, we welcomed the Queen Mary ship which has not been to South Africa in a very long time and we welcomed over 2,000 tourists,” explains Hlengiwe Magudulela, Durban Tourism Senior Manager for Tourism Information Services.

“We are doing our best to leverage the cruise market and champion cruise liner tours.”

What is happening to Durban's port?

Durban waterfront at nightCanva

In order to amplify economic opportunities for the cruise economy, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a $5 billion (€4.6 billion) expansion plan, which will see the Durban Port grow over the next decade, boosting commercial and tourist activity in the area.

The port expansion will sit alongside a planned development of the Durban Bay waterfront, which is expected to include luxury hotels, museums and an exhibition centre.

Though the plan is still in its early stages, the city of Durban, alongside its partners Transnet and the KZN Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs Department, hope that the new infrastructure will boost tourism and contribute positively to the local economy.

Will the port expansion bring new tourists to Durban?

Sunrise in DurbanCanva

“At the moment, our place in the cruise line market is not so big,” says Magudulela.

“In response to President Ramaphosa’s declaration that there will be over 100 billion rand (€4.6 billion) infrastructure development alongside the terminal, we really want to leverage that into having tourists stay over.

The wider region of KwaZulu Natal saw 500,000 domestic travellers and 51,000 international tourists in December 2022, which injected over $500 million (€4.6 million) into the province's economy.

Pinky Radebe, KwaZulu Natal’s Senior Tourism Manager for PR and Communications believes that the influx of travellers is key to strengthening the local currency (rand) which has dipped due to global market influences.

“Tourism brings in a lot of money. Our rand has not been doing so well, international currencies bring our economy to greater heights,” she explains.

This year, KwaZulu Natal Tourism expects three cruises to arrive at the Durban port, with over 2,000 visitors in each passenger ship.

Share this articleComments

You might also like