KZN MEC wants Tourism indaba for Durban

2012-04-11 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL MEC for Economic Development and Tourism Mike Mabuyakhulu is on a mission to get the country’s annual tourism indaba to be held permanently in the province.

The Indaba, described as the African continent’s premier tourism exhibition and the third largest event of its kind in the world, has been held in KZN for 23 of its 33 years in existence.

Mabuyakhulu told the Finance Portfolio Committee yesterday that not having it as a committed event was like living with somebody for 23 years who then refuses an offer of lobola on the grounds of not yet being ready.

“After 23 years it is about time we walked down the aisle and made it a permanent relationship,” he said.

The MEC explained that the Tourism Indaba is run jointly by SA Tourism and the National Ministry of Tourism and that provinces had to bid for the event.

He said some people in the industry felt that the bidding process kept the Indaba edgy and current. They felt that having the exhibition permanently in one province could mean it would lose that edge.

Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille made taking the Tourism Indaba to Cape Town one of her election promises in the 2011 local government elections.

However, she did not pull it off.

Mabuyakhulu fired his first salvo then, saying the Indaba should have a permanent home in KZN. Speaking during the Finance Committee budget hearings yesterday, the MEC said there were practical reasons for wanting a permanent home for the Indaba.

He said there was a growing demand for space at the tourism trade exhibition and that existing space at Durban’s International Convention Centre (ICC) and the exhibition centre was proving to be insufficient for the event.

Mabuyakhulu said it was difficult to make a decision to invest in more space when the Indaba was being moved around.

“Our argument is that we have moulded the Indaba into the African continent’s premier tourist event,” he said.

“It is only fair to make it permanent in eThekwini.”

Mabuyakhulu said that with the Indaba based in Durban, the province would be able to make long term investments as well as get the commitment of sponsors.

Last year’s Tourism Indaba, which was held in May, generated almost R300 million for the local economy, according to the eThekwini Municipality.

The MEC added that the all the other tourism trade exhibitions in the world were held in one place. The ITB the biggest tourism exhibition in the world was permanently held in Berlin; similarly The World Travel Market was always held in London, he pointed out.

• nalini@witness.co.za

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