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Africa Travel Indaba comes at opportune time for Durban

KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala and Minister of Tourism Lindiwe Sisulu officiate the Africa Travel Indaba with the traditional ringing of the bell. Bongani Mbatha: African News Agency/ANA

KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala and Minister of Tourism Lindiwe Sisulu officiate the Africa Travel Indaba with the traditional ringing of the bell. Bongani Mbatha: African News Agency/ANA

Published May 3, 2022

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The African Travel Indaba has come at an opportune time for the eThekwini Municipality, given the fact that the tourism sector suffered heavily under the might of the Covid-19 pandemic, civil unrest and recent flooding that destroyed major infrastructure around KwaZulu-Natal.

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On Tuesday, the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Durban saw thousands of African and international delegates walk through its doors in efforts to reginite the tourism sector, which was described as “an anchor for the economy” by tourism minister, Lindiwe Sisulu.

Sisulu, together with KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Ravi Pillay and Nkosenhle Madlala, chair of governance and human capital portfolio, visited the various exhibits on display and touched on the province’s potential for growth.

Both the minister and Madlala said the Indaba was a breath of fresh air for the citizens of the province who have undergone immense stress in the wake of the recent flooding, which claimed over 400 lives.

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Over the past three years, the city officials have had their wits tested to the limits in the face of the pandemic, civil unrest and destructive floods that swept through the province. Despite this, state officials were adamant that the travel indaba had to go on.

“I think the people needed something like this to uplift them. It also comes at a time to revive the economy and SMMEs in KwaZulu-Natal, to revive the tourism economy in KZN as a whole. We are going to be considering an injection from this occasion of a donation to KZN.

“Importantly, we needed to get our people to live again. As much as we lived again after Covid, we need to live again after the floods. So this was necessary, it is a cathartic process that we are going through and I am glad we came to KwaZulu-natal because the people need to know that the government is concerned,” Sisulu said.

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Madlala, when asked about hopes for the indaba: “This is a great opportunity to rekindle our tourism and reintroduce Durban to the world and Africa. We have hosted buyers, hosted media and tour operators. We are not only going to present to them what Durban has to offer, but walk them through it.

“This gives us a great opportunity and we are pleased with the Indaba,” Madlala told IOL on Tuesday.

SOUTH AFRICA - ANAPIX - Durban - 03 MAY 2022 - Lindiwe Sisulu minister of Tourism Development and Enviromental Affairs addressing deligates at the opening of Africa Travel Indaba at Durban ICC.Bongani Mbatha: African News Agency /ANA

According to Madlala, who was standing in for Durban Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda, the Indaba will have a direct spend of R29 million and contribute approximately R72.5 million to Durban’s GDP while creating about 150 jobs.

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He also said the recent floods put a dent in the city’s projected Easter tourism earnings.

Madlala said the next big attraction the city can look forward to is the Durban eye, a project with a price tag of around R450 million and likely to be completed by Easter 2023.

In his keynote address at the Travel Indaba breakfast held at the Elangeni Hotel on the Durban beachfront, MEC for Economic Development and Tourism Ravi Pillay said he was confident the sector would bounce back.

“I am confident that tourism is ready to bounce back with a bang, and reclaim its coveted position as a worthy contributor to employment.

“We are ready to revitalise the tourism value and supply chains, and we look forward to the economic benefits of the various upstream and downstream activities which tourism supports,” Pillay said.

Impilo Development Project performing at the opening of the Africa Travel Indaba at Durban ICC. Bongani Mbatha: African News Agency /ANA

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