Durban - Three weeks after some parts of the city of eThekwini were under water because of flooding which caused havoc and left infrastructure damaged, South Africa was hailed for organising a successful event, Africa’s Travel Indaba.
In a media closing brief held at Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (ICC) on Thursday, KZN Tourism CEO Phindile Makwakwa, ICC CEO Lindiwe Rakharebe, Durban Tourism deputy head Winile Mtungwa and SA Tourism chief convention bureau officer Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo commended the city for hosting one of the greatest events in the country.
“We hosted so many visitors from all over the world. This is what we needed as the city and, given the challenges we had from the July unrest to other disasters, we demonstrated that as a city we are always ready to help the world to explore our shores.
“We are grateful that everyone returning home will go back with a great message to the world,” said Mtungwa.
Rakharebe said during the floods water had come into the ICC as Mother Nature caused havoc. She commended the collaboration of leaders from the city, in particular the women who led the Indaba event.
“We are the convention centre that brings the world to Africa, and it was important for us to ensure the safety of our visitors. We said hygiene is to be heightened and, as the mother of the house, I had to ensure that the people were taken care of,” she said.
Makwakwa said: “The teamwork we have seen has been amazing. We have had sleepless nights to ensure that the event was a success. We showed the world that the trade show is still alive and we needed to be back on the international calendar.
“We demonstrated that tourism is very much alive. We feel the three-day event was not enough and therefore it feels like we could just go on,” said Makwakwa.
She added that they wanted to ensure that Indaba 2023 would be even better.
Makwakwa said it was surreal when the floods struck the city. She said they had considered cancelling the Indaba, but this was not an option as tourism needed to be brought back to life.
Echoing the sentiments of her colleagues, Kotze-Nhlapo said that 19 African countries had given the world the best they could.
“We said Africa must shine and, due to the issues around Covid-19, we wanted to do the hybrid Indaba but we looked at each other in the face and said ‘this is who we are as Africa. Let’s bring people together and showcase our offerings’,” said Kotze-Nhlapo.
The indaba registered 665 exhibitors, of which 126 were African products from more than 18 African countries.
Kotze-Nhlapo said there were 964 international buyers who had the opportunity to participate in all activities. She said 450 buyers were from the international community and 505 were from South Africa.
She added that more than 14 000 meetings took place.
“Some of the meetings could not be confirmed and so there could be more meetings still taking place as we have seen people meeting throughout the Indaba which made the trade show more interesting,” Kotze-Nhlapho said.
The acting CEO of SA Tourism, Themba Khumalo, commended the formidable women who had put the Indaba together despite challenges, such as the floods, over which they had no control.