Durban - KwaZulu-Natal’s resilience to the economic damage caused by Covid-19, the July unrest and the devastating floods which killed hundreds and left many homeless has been highlighted at the three-day Africa’s Travel Indaba.
On Tuesday, Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu officially opened one of the country’s biggest events at the Durban International Convention Centre after the pandemic.
Addressing the delegation from more than 55 countries, including 18 from Africa and various businesses, Sisulu said the event was a show of force and resilience by the people after the floods caused havoc in the province.
“I would like to thank every South African as well as partners from across the world, for the support they have shown in ensuring that our sector and the people of KwaZulu-Natal get back on their feet.
“We must be cognisant that we are experiencing warning signs of climate change, therefore our sector must be part of the united global response to the challenge of reducing carbon emissions,” she said.
Sisulu stressed that it was important to practise tourism that minimised carbon footprints, conserved energy and water, reduced waste and plastic consumption and ensured fair benefits were accrued to communities and employees.
“Africa’s Travel Indaba is back with renewed energy and focus. This is the continent’s leading travel trade show and foremost business platform, geared at reconnecting the tourism sector in person while networking and doing business which will contribute to the recovery of our sector on the continent.
“The theme for Africa’s Travel Indaba is ‘Africa’s Stories, Your Success’. When we start telling our own story as a continent, we embark on the journey of changing the narrative about Africa,” she said.
Joining this year’s event were 625 buyers who came from around the world to experience the diverse, authentically African products and experiences that the continent offers.
Speaking earlier at Africa’s Travel Indaba Durban-KZN breakfast at the Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani hotel, MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Ravi Pillay hailed the province and paid homage to those who died during the pandemic and the floods.
“The people of KZN may have lost their loved ones during the pandemic and the flooding; however, the people of the province remain resilient and will reclaim its position as an economic force that wishes to succeed despite the challenges.
“Our future is in the hands of the media, which must showcase our tourism in the province. The KZN provincial government is fully aware of the economic role played by tourism in our province, and we expect to fully recover in that sector,” said Pillay.
He added that more international airline routes would be opened to allow the region to connect with the world.
“Among other progressive plans, by the end of this month we will be opening an airport in the Mkuze area in northern KZN. This will allow people to move easily within the province.”
Pillay said this year’s theme of Africa’s Travel Indaba was a story of hope that tomorrow will be better and that the nation would still drive its narrative through difficult economic conditions.
Acting CEO of KZN Tourism, Phindile Makwakwa, said that it was important for the province to return to its source market and other stakeholders, including the provincial government, and work closely with all tourism club heads.
“As the Zulu Kingdom we are what we say we are and we need to remain the top destination of choice in the country.”
Durban Tourism deputy head Winile Mntungwa said that there were plans in the city to revive tourism and also get the Moses Mabhida Stadium fully operational.
“The Indian community is not left out in the recovery process as tourism agencies in the city are open to working with all people to ensure that the sector meets everyone’s needs.”
Pillay said that there would be intervention to assist those who have been affected by the pandemic and flooding. He said that his team would ensure there were plans and that there would be consequence management should they fail to implement them.
Chairperson of the KZN tourism board, Sthembiso Madlala, thanked Sisulu for the role she played to ensure Africa’s Travel Indaba returned to KwaZulu-Natal.