In the year 1999, the air route from OR Tambo International to Pilanesberg Resort began operating but that did not take long before it went pear-shaped, as a result of pitiable marketing and not having enough bookings.
But all that is forgiven, following robust negotiations that took place amongst ‘tripartite alliance’ i.e. North West Provincial Government, SA Express and Sun City to revisit the idea of an airlink.
Fast-forward to April 2015, when the first commercial flight took to the skies between Cape Town, Johannesburg, Sun City and soon Mahikeng Airport -to increase, boost and improve tourism in the Platinum Province once described an ‘island’ that is hard to market.
Sun City Managing Executive, Mike van Vuuren, says the availability of commercial flights to and from Pilanesberg has opened up the gateway for easier and faster access to Sun City and the numerous attractions available in the Pilanesberg area.
“The South African community is taking full advantage of the flights to the Pilanesberg, accounting for 60% of sales while international travelers make up the remaining 40%. The route opens up a convenient direct channel for these visitors and bodes well for tourism in the province,” says Van Vuuren.
It is said when an Elephant, waltz through a bush the grass suffers but in this instance the grass should be greener. This is in reference to Charles Ndabeni, HOD at the department of Tourism, who is the brains behind the concept.
The gargantuan-oak Ndabeni says this is part of the Province’s 2030 Vision; to be the second most visited destination of choice in terms of tourism numbers and popularity after Gauteng.
“We have invested R7bn to rebrand, market and improve the Province of NW, by launching various projects that seeks to create employment (25 000 jobs within five years’)and emancipate the lives of the people of the Platinum Province. This project is the first of many to come in the near future,” says Ndabeni, who says culture, heritage and Ubuntu are the corner-stone of the Province.
Soccer Challenge, jazz awards and international jazz at Sun City later this year, are some of the projects in the pipeline.
SA Express currently offers return flights into the Pilanesberg from OR Tambo International Airport and from Cape Town International twice a week on Monday and Friday.
For more information visit: http://www.flyexpress.aero