KwaZulu Natal cemented its position as the darling of mega events organisers when the City of Durban was announced as Africa’s premier meetings and conference destination at the World Travel Awards function held at Inkosi Albert Luthuli ICC.
The MEC for Economic Development, Tourism & Environmental Affairs, Mr Sihle Zikalala has on behalf of the Provincial Government of KwaZulu-Natal received the award which is widely regarded as the “Oscars of the travel industry”.
Commenting on this top drawer accolade, Mr Zikalala said, “With this prestigious award which recognizes the work done by our Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE), KwaZulu-Natal has once again reinforced its position as the world’s mega events and tourism destination,”
This recognition was also a solid acknowledgment of the never ending excellent service that tourism players offer to the province’s guests and delegates when hosting international events.
“We are humbled by the increased confidence that the world continues to show in KwaZulu-Natal. We have in the recent past successfully hosted mega events such as the World Economic Forum on Africa, Telecom World Conference, World Aids Congress, Tourism Indaba to mention but a few.”
The province planned on using the high profile gatherings as vehicles to attract the attention of potential investors and tourists essential in growing our economy to scale down the current high levels of joblessness and poverty, Zikalala said.
“The current estimates are that, over the next three years, the total direct impact from our Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions will be in the region of R1.1 billion. Tourism KwaZulu-Natal is on an aggressive campaign to increase the number of international tourists.”
This campaign to grow international tourists was bearing fruits, Zikalala said.
“The latest statistics reveal that some 2 000 more international tourists arrived via King Shaka International Airport in the first three months of the year compared to the same period last year. We now have more airlines flying directly into KwaZulu-Natal. At the end of this month British Airways will fly directly from Heathrow into King Shaka International Airport.”
The MEC said negotiations were under way with other international airlines and that the provincial government was confident that it would in the near future be announcing another airline which would also land directly into the province.