AFTER many years of Durban taking the back seat in the international and local tourism markets, the City is now a premier sporting and tourism destination with standards that can compete on a global level.

This was apparent on the first day (22-10-2013) of the Sports and Events Tourism Exchange Exhibition and Conference. Taking place at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre, this two day Expo which will end tomorrow (23-10-2013) aims to promote South Africa as a sporting events destination.

Kwa-Zulu Natal MEC for Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation Ntombikayise Sibhidla Saphetha said hosting this conference in Durban is another confirmation that international stakeholders have faith in the City’s abilities. Sports have proved constantly to be a major instrument to unify people and as a catalyst for economic development.

“We have a proven track record of hosting major events such as the 2010 World Cup, AFCON, Dusi Canoe Marathon, Comrades Marathon, Midmar Mile and the World Transplant Games which alone drew over 1 500 athletes from 50 countries in the world. This proves our capabilities of hosting big world class events,” said Saphetha.

She said besides the economic spin offs that are generated out of these events; they also tackle the issue of job creation and skills development.

EThekwini Municipality’s Speaker Logie Naidoo said Tourism and Hospitality sector has a potential to attract more investment and create economic opportunities.

“This conference is an ideal initiative to cement our place in the global community by showcasing what Durban has to offer. I urge all delegates to take time and explore the City’s world class facilities,” he said.

Mike Tsotetsi, Chief Executive Office at Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality, and Sports Sector Educational Training Authority (CATHSSETA) said this gathering is about mobilising our combined resources and efforts to ensure that South Africa fully cultivates its ability to host big events.

“Sports tourism has been identified as one of the fastest growing areas of the global travel and tourism industry. This is backed up by the fact that close to 10% of 9.2 million South African tourist arrivals in 2012 were in the country to partake or watch a sporting event,” he said.

He insisted that in order for the City to remain as an ideal destination to host global events it must examine the skills needs of this sector and close the gaps that may hinder the growth of this emerging industry. This also includes taking full advantage of already existing events that continue to attract international crowds.

The Expo also offered some valuable tips on how Local Government can improve in hosting events, such as making sure that a balanced mix of events is hosted throughout the year to achieve the City’s key objectives and to continuously monitor the cost benefits and impacts of the events so that they will re-align where necessary.

For more information please contact Thabo Mofokeng on 031 311 4820/ 0827317456 or email: Thabo1.Mofokeng@durban.gov.za.
 
Issued by the eThekwini Municipality’s Communication Unit: Contact Sane Shandu on 031 311 4806/072 572 8658 or email: sanelisiwe.shandu@durban.gov.za