The FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon kicks off on February 16. Picture: Instagram/Stuart9136.

KwaZulu-Natal has welcomed travellers from across the world for the biggest canoe marathon in Africa, the FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon, which kicks off today (February 16).

Canoeist from Europe, United-States, South America, the continent and South Africa are “Doing the Dusi’’. The FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon has become a bucket list event and this year it has attracted the biggest contingent of international paddlers in the history of the legendary race. 
The marathon starts in Pietermaritzburg and finishes at Blue Lagoon on Saturday, February 16, 2019. The final day of the race will be live streamed and spectators from around the globe will get a front row seat of the event, putting KZN on the global stage. Sihle Zikalala, MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs said events like Dusi Canoe were pivotal for the province’s economy. 

"Over the past few years, we have seen massive growth in international participants. The use of technology such as live streaming this event will enable us to position KZN not only as a top sporting destination, but these audiences will get to see the beauty and splendour of our Zulu Kingdom. This will possibly encourage them to possibly consider KZN as their next holiday destination," he said. 
 “The marathon goes through some of the most scenic sights of KZN making this the perfect adventure tourism destination for both the participants and their support teams,” Zikalala added.
Phindile Makwakwa, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of Tourism KZN, said she was delighted that this year there were canoeists from 10 countries taking part.
 “This year we have canoeists coming as far as Austria, Denmark, the United States, Sweden, England and Colombia, most of whom have been in the country for almost 10 days to learn the rivers and the course. 
‘’This race is one of many big sporting events that put the province on the global tourism and adventure sports map,” she said, pointing out the KZN also hosts the Vodacom Durban July, the Tsogo Sun Amashova cycle classic, the Comrades Marathon and the Midmar Mile. 


The marathon is expected to have a massive economic spin-off for the province too. Last year the economic impact topped more than R6-million, helping to create and sustain jobs in the hospitality industry. Recent trends have shown that a number of canoeists and their supporters arrive early in the week and stay a bit longer after the event to sample some of the nearby tourism attractions.
Some canoeists come with their families and up to 20 crew who support them along the route.
If previous years activities around the Dusi are anything to go by, the tourism and hospitality sector are optimistic it would add more to their coffers.