Oyewo-Umoh Adetola Elizabeth
The Kwa-Zulu Natal Convention Bureau and the Durban ICC under the auspice of the KwaZulu-Natal Ministry for Economic Development, Tourism & Environmental Affairs
(EDTEA) hosted a Stakeholder Engagement session tagged the ‘importance of Business Tourism in the South African Economy’ on 4th October 2018 at the Durban ICC.
The event gathered government officials, hospitality owners, business leaders and tourism experts to discuss how business tourism was key to sustain the economy. The highlight of the discussion unpacked how South Africa was trying to get five million more people to visit the country in the next five years. With research presentation from the South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB) delegate tracking study 2014-2016, it indicated that in 2014, the international meetings, conference and exhibition industry business contributed to 267 660 direct and indirect annual jobs in South Africa and 280 555 in 2015.The session also highlighted how to get more accommodation booked, how service providers and SMMES could benefit from event bidding. As well as the impact of business tourism, economic impact of Durban ICC; crime perception on tourism and uncleanliness in certain part of Durban on tourism.
Stakeholders were urged to work together collaboratively in the event bidding process because the bidding process is complex in order to go against other destination in the bidding process. There is also the need to showcase SMMEs and SMMEs should be involved in the bidding process as it cost less hosting event in South Africa. MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), Sihle Zikalala commenting on the SANCB report stated that ‘the commercial value of visitors traveling for business or leisure must be at the heart of our economic development and employment creation trajectory. All stakeholders must work together to achieve sustainable inclusive growth to increase employment. The severe levels of unemployment, poverty, and inequality require urgent attention’. He adds that the National Development Plan states that we need to raise employment by 11 million to 24 million by 2030. This is in recognition that the President expects social partners and all sectors to commit to specific targets and plans to end the nightmare of unemployment which is robbing many South African young people of their future. Persons from previously disadvantage should benefit from the sector not just as cleaners but owners in the value chain’. Zikalala suggest the need on offering diverse tourism products and South Africa should be marketed as a whole at equal level. It was also pointed out that the Home Affairs new regulation would also boost growth of the tourism sector.
The engagement was attended by CEO Ushaka Marine world, Dr. Stella Khumalo; eThekwini Councillor Nkosenhle Madlala; CEO Durban ICC Lindiwe Rakharebe; Acting CEO Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, Phindile Makwakwa; Board Members Tourism KwaZulu-Natal Authority, Mr. Sthembiso Lennox Madlala ; CEO Durban Chamber of Commerce, Palesa Phili and KZN Convention Bureau Acting Chief Officer, Sonto Matisse amongst others.