Deputy Minister of Tourism, Elizabeth Thabethe and Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom.

Eager to get this year's Africa's Travel Indaba on the road, the brief opening ceremony saw Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom welcome the world and various other ministers to Durban.

Africa’s Travel Indaba is the world’s leading and longest running African travel trade show for over 35 years.

Trade shows such as Africa’s Travel Indaba provide a platform for buying and selling of tourism products, but also provides a platform for collaboration and dialogue around issues and policies affecting tourism.

Deputy mayor of eThekwini, Fawzia Peer, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Elizabeth Thabethe, Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom, Minister of Tourism in Swaziland, Christopher Gamede and MEC of Economic Development Sihle Zikalala during the walk about.

The next 3 days promises to be filled with exciting travel stories, great business partnerships and many more exciting announcements.

In his keynote address, Hanekom, dressed in a blue traditional silk shirt, similar to what former president Nelson Mandela wore during his Presidency, told guests this was going to be "the most beautiful, most fabulous and greatest Indaba events in history."

"We are about to ring the bell that signals the start of trading at Africa’s Travel Indaba, and what makes this significant is that it symbolises that our continent is open for tourism business," he said.

Delegates celebrating the new British Airways London-Durban route.

Hanekom said Africa's Travel Indaba was the result of collaboration between the bid parties, South African Tourism and the South African Government, as well as the owners and operators of attractions and facilities.  

"All the hard work that everyone has put in behind the scenes for the past year, all the meetings and planning – it’s about to pay off," he added.

Deputy Mayor of eThekwini Municipality, Fawzia Peer, said the city was excited to host the event for the next 5 years.

"Tourism Indaba has become synonymous with Durban. It is with great pride that we begin our 5 year journey with the groundbreaking announcement of new Durban-London route with British Airways.

We promise to take Indaba to unimaginable levels.

Minister of Tourism and Hospitality in Zimbabwe, Priscah Mupfumira with Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom.

"With the upcoming projects by Durban, the city is positioning itself to be the gateway to the African continent for tourism and investment," she said.

MEC for Economic Development, Tourism & Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala, said they will continue to work with the different African countries to boost tourism and economic development.

Deputy Minister of Tourism, Elizabeth Thabethe and Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom.

Following the ceremonial ringing of the bell, Hanekom together CEO of South African Tourism, Sisa Ntshona, Peer and Zikalala visited stands at the Durban Exhibition stands.

These included Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, Durban Tourism, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Uganda. Indaba ends on Thursday, May 10.