Bollywood is ‘jolly good for Durban’

2013-09-09 00:00

BOLLYWOOD is jolly good, especially for business and tourism. That’s the message from Mike Mabuyakhulu, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, following Durban’s hosting of the South Africa India Film and Television Awards (Saifta) this past Friday at the Chief Albert Luthuli International Conference Centre.

“Our aim is to raise the profile of KwaZulu-Natal as a premier film location,” says Mabuyakhulu. “This is closely linked with an increased number of tourists visiting our province thus having a positive effect on the local economy.”

The department has formed a partnership with Celebrity Locker, the organisers of the event. The glittering Saifta ceremony on Friday was the first of three to take place annually in Durban over the next three years.

“Saifta is not just about film and television; it extends itself to music, dance and fashion … The event therefore promotes skills transfer, job opportunities, cultivates multi-culturalism and further boosts strategic alliances between India and South Africa,” said Mabuyakhulu.

Mabuyakhulu said the event will boost the economy through business tie-ups, and lead to an increase in employment and tourism; plus it will put Durban on the international map as a “must-see destination”.

It is hoped Saifta will boost tourism from India. Sadha Naidoo, chairperson of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, said the natural synergy between India and KwaZulu-Natal, in particular, is undeniable and an event such as the Saiftas will go a long way in strengthening KZN’s popularity within the Indian market, as a holiday, film-making and business destination.

Tourism KZN’s CEO, Ndabo Khoza, says the Indian tourism market shows tremendous growth potential. “In 2010, the total number of outbound trips from India exceeded 12,5 million and in 2011 this grew by 11%.” Outbound trips from India are expected to exceed 22 million per year by 2015.

“In 2012, KZN received a mere 2,4% of the over-100 000 Indian tourist arrivals into South Africa, which was valued to be in the order of R2,3 billion. Tourism KwaZulu-Natal therefore has much to do in ensuring that KwaZulu-Natal becomes a key stop on the Indian traveller’s South African itinerary.” He says Saifta is a key event of business and corporate travel.

The Saiftas also spread the word with regard to Durban and KwaZulu-Natal as a film location, says Mabuyakhulu. “We have formed the KZN Film Commission because we wanted to elevate KZN as a sought after filming destination. Saifta raises the profile of the province among international film makers.”

Toni Monty, head of the Durban Film Office, agrees. “There are one to two Bollywood productions shot in Durban per year; and one to two major Bollywood productions every two years. We are looking to increase that so from that perspective Saifta will strengthen that connection.”

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