Mkhuze Airport facelift to boost KZN tourism

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The tourism industry is expected to grow in Mkhanyakude, KwaZulu-Natal, following a decision by the provincial government to upgrade Mkhuze Airport.

Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC, Sihle Zikalala, on Tuesday unveiled plans for the R32 million upgrade project.

MEC Zikalala said the facelift would see the airport creating its own globally recognised identity as safari enthusiasts would be able to fly to King Shaka International Airport and thereafter take a direct flight to Mkhuze.

“We have taken a decision upgrade the airport because it is strategically located in the prime tourism destination of the uMkhanyakude District, which boasts the highest concentration of game reserves in the country, including Thanda, Phinda, uMkhuze, Pongola, Hluhluwe, Leopard Mountain, Rhino River, Bayete Zulu, Tembe Elephant Park to mention but a few,” MEC Zikalala said.

The provincial department said the upgrades will see Mkhuze Airport following the Skukuza airport model, which serves not only Kruger National Park but many surrounding reserves.

The MEC said the vision for the airport was to achieve the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s Category 3 status, where the aerodrome could accommodate up to 100 seater aircrafts.

Once completed, the airport will also cater for freight aircraft, fuel supply to aircraft, pilot training, firefighting training, anti-poaching exercises and other related aviation activities.

Zikalala urged the private sector to play an active role in the development of the airport. 

“I am glad to hear that already some potential investors are showing appetite for services at the airport. We want to get the airport to a state that makes it attractive for investment in the area. The airport is surrounded by vacant developable land that makes provision for non-aviation activities. However, such development must not be to the detriment of our environment or the wildlife which is abundant in this area,” MEC Zikalala said.

The launch of the airport plans was also attended by tour operators, hoteliers, airlines, bed and breakfast owners and business people.

Ghost Mountain Inn manager Jean Toucher said the upgrade was good news for tourism in Mkhanyakude.

“We welcome government’s decision to invest in our airport. I have no doubt that the airport will make it easier for tourists to access our world class tourism sites,” Toucher said. – SAnews.gov.za

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