New air routes to be established in Mpumalanga

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Nelspruit - Mpumalanga tourism authorities intend establishing direct air routes from overseas countries to Nelspruit in an effort to reduce the cost of air tickets in the run-up to the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

Currently, the 400km route between Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) near Nelspruit and OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg is one of the most expensive in the country, at over R3 000 for a return flight.

In comparison, the 300km route between East London and Port Elizabeth costs only R1 600 return.

"We intend ensuring that we establish new markets and routes to link Nelspruit-KMIA to major hubs," said Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) chief executive Charles Ndabeni.

He said the MTPA had prioritised establishing direct routes to the airport from international markets like Russia, India, Japan, China and Brazil, and regional markets like Livingstone in Zambia and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

MTPA spokesperson Kholofelo Khwinana said the province's Tourism Airlift Strategy and 2010 plans would be launched at the South African Tourism Indaba in Durban.

The Tourism Indaba, which runs from 9 to 12 May at the Durban International Convention Centre, will feature over 2 000 exhibitors of various tourism products.

"The MTPA will also undertake a number of activities (at Indaba) in a bid to create a platform for Mpumalanga products and general promotion of tourism in the province," said Mr Khwinana.

A number of small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) will showcase their products at the MTPA exhibition stand.

South African Tourism acting chief executive Didi Moyle said this year's Indaba would focus on the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

"We are using the Indaba to show that we are ready and waiting to welcome 2010 visitors," said Mr Moyle.

South African Tourism spokesperson Monde Mateza said South Africa would still be able to attract millions of people in 2010, despite the global financial crunch.

"In spite of global economic woes, South African Tourism remains cautiously optimistic that it will achieve its five-year ambition of welcoming 10 million tourists in 2010," said Mr Mateza.

He said South African Tourism will launch its 2010 FIFA World Cup campaign at the Indaba to help market the event worldwide while also getting locals to support the event.

"There will also be a virtual soccer experience and a 2010 soccer celebration during which football matches will be played. Durban will resonate with the sound of vuvuzelas and cheering crowds during the Indaba," said Mr Mateza.