MORE than 13000 delegates are expected to attend the Indaba 2011 in Durban this weekend, Africa’s largest tourism trade show, as the city basks in a strong revival of its tourism sector in the past few months.
Large-scale buyers of tourism products are put in touch with a variety of goods and services across Southern Africa. Last year, it was billed as the world’s third most important travel and tourism event, attract ing more than 10000 delegates.
"Independent research from several sources confirms that the event has a socioeconomic impact of more than R300m in the city," said Durban’s head of business support and tourism, Phillip Sithole.
Mr Sithole said Indaba would aid in marketing Durban, and would serve as a platform to meet citizens of the countries that the city intended to market itself to.
The Indaba comes at a time when the city is experiencing a surge in tourism activity after the 2010 Soccer World Cup and after billions of rand was spent on upgrading transport and infrastructure, including the beachfront promenade, ahead of the global event.
Mr Sithole said tourism had contributed close to R2bn to the city’s economy over the 15-day holiday period in December last year , which represented a 16% increase over the previous year.
Between December 23 last year and January 22 this year, hotels were on average 85%-90% full, occupancy levels which had not been seen for "decades" at many Durban hotels. "We had one of our best Easter seasons and we are expecting much the same in July," when the Durban July horse race event would be held, Mr Sithole said.
He said the Indaba, which is run by marketing agency SA Tourism, would cost the city about R17m to host over five years, but it was money well spent. Dumi Mbatha, head of marketing for Durban Tourism, said all available exhibitor space at the Indaba was taken, in spite of the fact that some of the stands were smaller than in previous years because of the tighter economic conditions. In addition, "all the hotels are full. They are very happy barely two weeks after a very busy season," Ms Mbatha said.