Tens of thousands of spectators who flocked to the beaches last year to watch the international aviation event, the Durban Land, Sea and Air Festival will be sad to hear that the event, which was recently still tipped to happen in 2015 even after loss of KZN Treasury support, has been indefinitely cancelled. The cancellation marks another sad loss of aviation events in the province that have entertained people across the province in the KZN Winter Air Tour and more recently the Land, Sea and Air Festival of 2014.
After the contract awarded for the KZN Air Series to a well known event organising company ended with the last airshow in Ulundi last year there was much speculation as to the future of airshows in the province. With no access to funding the organisers cancelled the Zululand Race of Champions 2014 and in essence we lets to wrap up a successful three years of airshows.
New organiser, Sport Unplugged, had secured sponsorship with TOTAL South Africa to host this years Durban Land, Sea and Air Festival and had been working to ensure that the Durban based event continued and was financially sustainable. The Durban Land, Sea and Air Festival was deemed more inclusive of the Durban public than the Durban Airshow which had been hosted at Virginia Airport for more than 50 years, and the former was offered free to close on 100,000 people in 2014. Regrettably Sport Unplugged, through spokesperson George Stainton, issued a letter to stakeholders on the 19th February stating “Due to the high cost of delivering a quality international aviation event, coupled with time constraints, TOTAL South Africa and Sport Unplugged regret to advise that the Land Sea & Air Festival and their involvement in the event, scheduled for 1 May 2015 has been indefinitely cancelled.”
This cancellation is very unfortunate as the event not only offered something new and fresh to the Durban public for free but also has a significant economic impact on the tourism industry, offering up additional business in a traditionally flat period between holiday seasons. The Festival was also broadcast internationally in 2014 by the organisers and received recognition internationally in terms of an aviation event.
For now it seems that we’ll have to sit on the beach and be happy with the memories of 2014’s Gripen Jet and Airbus flying over our beaches. Another sad loss for the city.