Ayanda Gudwana from Matatiele, Eastern Cape, looking at a lifelike Nelson Mandela statue in Florida Road, which has captured the attention of many. The statue was unveiled at the start of Africa’s Travel Indaba.     Sibusiso Ndlovu African News Agency (ANA)
Ayanda Gudwana from Matatiele, Eastern Cape, looking at a lifelike Nelson Mandela statue in Florida Road, which has captured the attention of many. The statue was unveiled at the start of Africa’s Travel Indaba. Sibusiso Ndlovu African News Agency (ANA)
Ayanda Gudwana from Matatiele, Eastern Cape, looking at a lifelike Nelson Mandela statue in Florida Road, which has captured the attention of many. The statue was unveiled at the start of Africa’s Travel Indaba.     Sibusiso Ndlovu African News Agency (ANA)
Ayanda Gudwana from Matatiele, Eastern Cape, looking at a lifelike Nelson Mandela statue in Florida Road, which has captured the attention of many. The statue was unveiled at the start of Africa’s Travel Indaba. Sibusiso Ndlovu African News Agency (ANA)
Ayanda Gudwana from Matatiele, Eastern Cape, looking at a lifelike Nelson Mandela statue in Florida Road, which has captured the attention of many. The statue was unveiled at the start of Africa’s Travel Indaba.     Sibusiso Ndlovu African News Agency (ANA)
Ayanda Gudwana from Matatiele, Eastern Cape, looking at a lifelike Nelson Mandela statue in Florida Road, which has captured the attention of many. The statue was unveiled at the start of Africa’s Travel Indaba. Sibusiso Ndlovu African News Agency (ANA)
Ayanda Gudwana from Matatiele, Eastern Cape, looking at a lifelike Nelson Mandela statue in Florida Road, which has captured the attention of many. The statue was unveiled at the start of Africa’s Travel Indaba.     Sibusiso Ndlovu African News Agency (ANA)
Ayanda Gudwana from Matatiele, Eastern Cape, looking at a lifelike Nelson Mandela statue in Florida Road, which has captured the attention of many. The statue was unveiled at the start of Africa’s Travel Indaba. Sibusiso Ndlovu African News Agency (ANA)
Ayanda Gudwana from Matatiele, Eastern Cape, looking at a lifelike Nelson Mandela statue in Florida Road, which has captured the attention of many. The statue was unveiled at the start of Africa’s Travel Indaba.     Sibusiso Ndlovu African News Agency (ANA)
Ayanda Gudwana from Matatiele, Eastern Cape, looking at a lifelike Nelson Mandela statue in Florida Road, which has captured the attention of many. The statue was unveiled at the start of Africa’s Travel Indaba. Sibusiso Ndlovu African News Agency (ANA)
DURBAN - Ordinarily, we would let the statistics speak for themselves.

With more than 7000 delegates in the city for Africa’s Travel Indaba, held between May 2 and 4 at Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Conference Centre, we expected a R40million cash injection for the local economy.

But our city’s Indaba story is not just told through the stats of how many delegates arrived, or the money injected into the economy.

This year, we embraced the theme for Indaba 2019, which was: “Africa’s stories, your success”, combined with our city’s theme: “This is Durban”.

Take, for example, local entrepreneur Lunga Ntuli and his line of watches, LN Watches.

It would have been hard to miss this young man’s stall at the Indaba Sustainability Village.

With colourful arrays of intricately- beaded straps, he put creative, colourful and distinctly Zulu-inspired watches on the map.

Starting up in 2015 was a brave step for the young man, who jumped from a love of writing to wanting to create accessories that spoke to African design. He knew he had a story to tell, and that involved taking his products internationally, and it was for this reason he was exhibiting at Indaba.

At his stall, he interacted with buyers from around the world, steadfast in his goal of taking his products internationally.

Let’s take Phumzile Pugeni as well.

An architect by profession, she embodies the spirit of young people creating their own opportunities.

While at the tail end of her studies in 2013, this bubbly personality began working on a range of home decor pieces, under the name Home Artists.

She has a range of scatter cushions, vases and coasters that all embody the South African spirit. Her designer lamp fittings are crafted by local women, made from natural and sustainable materials.

Her aim at Indaba was to use the platform to showcase her work, grow her business, expand the number of women working for the fledging business, and empower them.

Tourism products such as new B&Bs, canopy tours, new cultural and historical routes, all form part of the story we are telling as residents of this beautiful city, this province and country.

These are the stories of Durban, of Indaba, that make it a success.

But let’s go back to the stats.

Our city has been awarded the privilege of hosting Indaba for another four years, cementing Durban’s position in playing a leading role in the African continent’s growing image as a leading tourist destination.

This year, we played host once again to our fellow brothers and sisters.

They returned again and again, knowing with certainty that Indaba gave them a platform unlike any other.

This year, we were graced with the presence of ministers from Uganda and Lesotho, and we valued their presence as commitment to grow tourism on the continent.

As President Cyril Ramaphosa noted in his Indaba address: “We are global citizens and not divided by boundaries and borders, but united in infinite love for Africa.”

With major international parks that are being actively packaged and managed across the continent, 135 World Heritage Sites stretching from Ethiopia to Mali, Zimbabwe and South Africa, the continent has the opportunity to shine.

As a city, we are telling the story of Durban through culture and heritage, township and rural tourism, and importantly highlighting the diverse tourism experiences that are found within our region.

We have made great strides in hosting Indaba, as a city. We have provided a platform for small and medium enterprises to showcase their products to a large mix of potential buyers, and connect them to the world.

Tourism continues to be one of the fastest-growing branches of our economy, and is central to job creation, youth employment and the creation of various economic opportunities.

With more than 7000 delegates, we reached our projected R40m direct spend, and a R80m contribution to the city’s gross domestic profit.

The city, through Durban Tourism, had a packed programme, taking hosted buyers and media to some key attractions in our city and the province during Indaba.

We do this to ensure that our foreign and domestic tourists get a taste of Durban culture and heritage, while at the same time ensuring the business-focused delegates are shown the city’s diverse convention and conferencing options.

If you read some of the content online, you’d be overwhelmed by the positivity people have about the city, and it encourages us that Indaba continues to give Durban the thumbs up for our hospitality, the warmth of our people, and the good infrastructure.

But our story does not end there.

Let’s take a leaf out of President Ramaphosa’s speech, as when telling any story, you need to explore different plots before you finally find the ending.

His list of 10 suggestions, which include embracing technology, uniting as the African continent, and government seeking private partnerships, has been duly noted by our teams, which will translate into an even bigger and better Indaba in years to come.

THE MERCURY