New cruise terminal to boost tourism, jobs in SA

MSC Musica, one of the ships owned by MSC Cruises that will operate out of Durban for the 2020/2021 summer season. MSC is making significant investment into the cruise tourism industry in South Africa. Image: Supplied

Geneva-based MSC is in a joint venture to develop a R200m port project in Durban.

Construction work on the new R200 million Durban Cruise Terminal at South Africa’s busiest cruise port will commence in November and is due to be completed in 2021.

This was confirmed by the MD for MSC Cruises South Africa, Ross Volk, who was speaking at a media briefing in Sandton on Tuesday, adding that this was part of significant investments by the Italian, family-owned company into the country’s booming cruise tourism industry.

An artist’s impression of the planned R200m Durban Cruise Terminal, which is being developed by MSC Cruises as part of a joint-venture concession secured from Transnet National Port Authority.
Image: Supplied

“MSC Cruises is committed to growing the cruise tourism sector in the country and Africa at large. We are investing heavily in infrastructure as well as training, which includes the new Durban Cruise Terminal that will also house the MSC Shosholoza Ocean Academy,” Volk told Moneyweb.

“The construction on this state-of-the-art terminal is an exciting project that MSC Cruises is proud to be a part of. We plan to break ground on the development in November this year.”

MSC Cruises is the world’s largest privately owned cruise company with a fleet of 16 cruise ships currently operating in all the major cruise tourism destinations. It is part of MSC Group, the leading Swiss-based shipping and logistics conglomerate that also runs extensive cargo shipping operations out of South Africa.

A decade of cruises from SA

The group has operated cruise ships out of South African waters for over a decade, largely via its local homeport of Durban to Mozambique’s Portuguese isles, Madagascar and Mauritius during the summer season. Last season (2018/19) it handled over 130,000 cruise passengers in South Africa and saw an increase of 25%.

MSC Cruises has been calling for better embarkation facilities at the Durban port for years. Last year it signed a deal with Transnet National Port Authority (TNPA) to invest in a new cruise terminal as part of the KwaZulu Cruise Terminal Consortium (KTC). TNPA has identified a better location for the cruise terminal at the entrance to the port, adjoining the multi-billion rand Durban Point Waterfront development.

In a brief response to Moneyweb, TNPA said KCT is presently finalising the detailed design of the Durban Cruise Terminal building. “TNPA granted KCT a 25-year concession to finance, construct, operate, maintain and transfer a new cruise terminal facility in the Port of Durban, estimated to be a R200 million-plus project.”

According to Volk, the cruise terminal will be a multi-user facility, meaning that while MSC will be the main user of the terminal, it can be used by other cruise line operators to Durban. He says the more than R200 million investment will be part of the first phase of the new terminal, which will be capable of handling some 4,000 passengers at a time.

Ross Volk, MD of MSC Cruises South Africa. Image: Supplied

“This terminal will make Durban an even more desirable destination for cruise ships from all over the world,” he notes.

“It will substantially boost tourism numbers, create thousands of jobs and lead to supplier development.”

Volk says that as part of its investment into the development of the cruise tourism industry in South Africa, the new MSC Shosholoza Ocean Academy aims to train some 5,000 young people over the next five years.

“They will receive the skills necessary to work on cruise ships and once qualified will be given an internship to work on our cruise liners both in SA and around the world. With this initiative, MSC Cruises is supporting President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to grow the tourism sector in SA and create jobs,” he says.

Speaking at the MSC Cruises event, Angelo Capurro, the group’s global executive director, noted: “South Africa is an important market for MSC Cruises and reflects our broader growing investment in cruising globally.

“In fact, in South Africa for the next cruise season starting in December, we will have two ships operating. The bigger MSC Musica with capacity to carry 3,200 guests will be homeported in Durban, while MSC Opera will be homeported in Cape Town and have a capacity for around 2,500,” he adds.

Capurro says MSC Cruises has committed to launching 13 next-generation ships between 2017 and 2027, which will bring its fleet total to 25 and see its passenger capacity more than triple to around 5 million globally.

The company’s total investment in these ships amounts to around R200 billion.

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