Hotel owners cash in on ANC indaba

2010-09-19 15:02

If you try to book into a hotel in Durban today, you will probably be told they are fully booked.
Blame it on the ANC.

But Durban’s economic leaders are happy because the city is set to cash in on the ANC’s national general council (NGC) indaba, which starts tomorrow.

It is estimated that the party will spend R7 million on the five-day event, taking place at the Durban Exhibition Centre.

More than 2?000 delegates from the party and its alliance partners, the Congress of SA Trade Unions and the SA Communist Party, are expected to ­attend.

eThekwini Mayor Obed Mlaba said the city expected to generate millions of rands from the­ ­gathering, adding that even small ­businesspeople will benefit.

“There will be meals and accommodation that people will pay for. They will also be shopping and there will be all sorts of things, including entertainment,” said Mlaba.

Already, almost all the five-star hotels in Durban are fully booked until the end of the week.

These include The Hilton, Southern Sun (North Beach), SunCoast, Marine Parade and Elangeni.

An elated SunCoast general manager, Kaliq Essop, said the month of September was usually not good for business.

“Thanks to the ANC for ­bringing their conference to ­Durban because it has boosted us,” he said.

Essop said SunCoast was ­hosting most of the senior ANC leaders and the SABC’s massive crew of journalists, camera ­people, producers and other staff.

The KwaZulu-Natal economic development and tourism spokesperson, Bheko Madlala, said the conference would go a long way in cementing the province’s ­reputation as an ideal place to host major conferences.

Said Madlala: “We have no doubt that the conference will have a positive impact in the tourism industry, particularly in the hospitality industry. It will also boost the province’s economy. We believe that it is a good harbinger for the festive season.”

But he could not estimate how much the province would generate from the conference.

Premier Zweli Mkhize’s spokesperson Ndabezinhle Sibiya echoed Madlala’s sentiments about the economic spin-off.

“The world will undoubtedly be focusing on KwaZulu-Natal as this province will play host to the ANC NGC,” said Sibiya.

He said that Durban had ­become the destination of choice for big business and international conferences.

“These include the African ­Union Conference, Non- Aligned Movement Summit, Commonwealth Conference and the World Economic Forum. This has ­assisted this province to tap into the niche business tourism ­markets.”

Durban Chamber of Industry and Commerce acting chief ­executive TC Chetty said: “It’s definitely good for our economy as different sectors of business will benefit, especially in terms of hotel bookings.”

The Federated Hospitality ­Association of Southern Africa’s South Coast chairperson, Gerald Pitzer, who is also the general manager of the Hilton hotel, said hotel owners across Durban would benefit from the NGC.

“Accommodation in and around ­Durban is now fully booked, and this is good news for hotel owners,” said Pitzer.

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