Aspirations for Durban to lead Africa’s growing business tourism sector have been heightened with news the Durban KwaZulu-Natal Convention Bureau will lead the Future Convention Cities Initiative (FCCI) for the next two years.

The FCCI is a group of member cities that represent some of the best convention bureaus in the world, including Abu Dhabi, London, San Francisco, Seoul, Sydney and Toronto. They are seen as the new generation of convention leaders, using technology, innovation and research to increase the economic benefits of business events for their cities and the tourism business industry as a whole.

Chief Executive Officer of Tourism KZN Ndabo Khoza said: “Business events are a key part of building a thriving tourism sector for any destination. Many of the business travellers will either come early or stay longer after the conference and the world trends show that they are mostly likely to visit again as leisure tourists in the near future.”

Durban KwaZulu-Natal already offers a strong draw for tourists, with its white sand beaches, Zulu culture and safari opportunities. The tourism sector contributes about 10 per cent of the South African province’s Gross Domestic Product. The Ministry of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) Strategic Plan 2014-2019 includes a push to unlock further tourism opportunities. It names the development of the Durban-KwaZulu-Natal Tourism Convention Bureau and the competitive edge it provides in attracting conventions and events business as a key factor for growth in the province.

Since its inception, the bureau has attracted more than 30 conferences with an economic impact of more than R1 billion. And more are on the way: KwaZulu-Natal recently hosted 200 senior travel professionals at the Association for South Africa Travel Agents (ASATA) Conference. ASATA Chief Executive Officer Otto de Vries said: “The feedback received from all involved has been most positive and we are convinced that our members are encouraged to consider Durban for future events coming out of their respective businesses.”

Over the next few months, KZN will host a number of world-class conferences such as the 21st Baptists World Congress in July, the Loerie Awards in August and the 14th World Forestry Congress in September.

“Conferences of such natures bring thousands of delegates to our province and are the type of initiatives that ensure that we remain significant role players in the tourism sector,” added Khoza.

Durban and KZN were rated as Africa’s best MICE destination in 2012 and 2013 by the Business Destinations magazine, and Africa’s leading meetings and conference destination at the World Tourism Awards in 2014.

KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) joined the FCCI in 2011. The MEC for EDTEA Michael Mabuyakhulu added: “The FCCI aims to accelerate the strategic development of the business event industry of their cities, and in less than five years we have been entrusted with such an important role.

“This is truly an honour for KZN and it will go a long way towards positioning us as Africa’s leading business tourism destination. We are clearly doing something right; in 2013 Durban jumped 60 places in just one year to be in the top 100 world rankings of ICCA. KZN is currently no.2 in terms of delegate numbers after hosting 19 ICCA compliant meetings that brought over 13,000 delegates to the province in 2014.”

 

Featured image: By Steve Roetz from Durban, South Africa [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons