Hilton Hotel in Durban.Picture Zanele Zulu,27/03/2013

Audrey D’Angelo

The influx of five heads of state, about 2 000 conference delegates, a huge international media contingent and international and South African business people for the fifth Brics summit in Durban boosted the city’s economy and future prospects.

The two-day summit for delegates from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa filled the city’s hotels and other accommodation to capacity.

Another immediate spin-off was an announcement that Durban International Convention Centre will host the 21st annual World Route Development Forum in 2015.

This will be the first time that the event, in which airlines, airports, tourism boards and government representatives from 110 countries meet to discuss the development of new airline routes, will be held in Africa.

In 2015, the event will draw attention to Durban’s aerotropolis, or mini-city, now being developed around the Dube Tradeport and adjoining King Shaka International Airport, which was opened in 2010 in time for the soccer World Cup.

Scott Langley, a corporate affairs manager at the convention centre, said that the decision to host the route development forum in the city was expected to be the first of several international events to take place in Durban as a result of the exposure that the port city was receiving.

Eddy Khoza, the national chairman of the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa, said that holding the conference in Durban was “giving valuable exposure to our country” that was likely to lead to a boost in both tourism, business travel and conference business.

Michael Tatalias, the chief executive of the SA Tourism Services Association, pointed out that Durban was already enjoying the economic benefits of two holiday breaks – the long weekend following Human Rights Day and the coming Easter weekend following the Brics conference, both of which brought visitors from Gauteng and other parts of the country.