Ester Mahlangu at the Indaba - one of the largest tourism marketing events on the African calendar at the ICC, Durban. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng
Durban – When showcasing art, creatives should never underestimate their power to promote their country as a tourism destination.

This was the view expressed by South African-based film-maker Akin Omotoso at a Tourism Indaba dialogue focusing on uniting Africa through the arts.

Omotoso's sensational film Tell Me Sweet Something, set in Maboneng, showcases urban regeneration in Joburg.

"When we’ve shown the film overseas, there have been times people have asked ‘where is that’ and say it’s a place they would visit,” he said.

More film-makers were shooting in Durban, with the picturesque landscape and beauty, said Omotoso.

Just last year, top local film-makers Khalo Matabane and Mickey Dube shot their respective feature films 28s and Comatose in KwaZulu-Natal.

“The idea of promoting ourselves is part and parcel of storytelling. We have a lot of stuff and have to be proud of it and showcase it,” Omotoso added.

President Zuma flanked by MEC Sihle Zikalala and Minister of Tourism Tokozile Xasa inspecting various stalls during the Indaba. Picture: Elmond Jiyane, GCIS

The KZN Film Commission aims to encourage local film production and attract tourists to the province with its film tourism strategy.

Commission chief executive Carol Coetzee said it was working with KZN Tourism to encourage tour guides to establish tours to sites where films had been shot.

“It would entail negotiating with production companies to leave behind key, iconic props from the set so people can visit the site and recognise it from the film. There is a lot that could be offered,” Coetzee said.

Historically, films shot in KZN have used various locations to depict other areas.

For example, scenes of Nelson Mandela’s childhood village, Qunu in the Eastern Cape, were shot in the Drakensberg for the sensational epic Long Walk to Freedom.

“We still get some exposure because the credits do say 'shot in KwaZulu-Natal', but with projects that we are funding now, we say they need to shoot something iconic about the province, something that will automatically let people know it was shot here,” Coetzee added.

The Mercury