The Durban KwaZulu-Natal Convention Bureau has been entrusted with leading the Future Convention Cities Initiative (FCCI) for the next two years. This was recently announced at IMEX, a leading meetings, events and incentive travel exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany.
The FCCI is a group of member cities that represent some of the best convention bureaux in the world, including cities like Abu Dhabi, London, San Francisco, Seoul, Sydney, Toronto and Durban.
The MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Michael Mabuyakhulu, received the news with great excitement and said: “KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) only joined the FCCI in 2011. The FCCI aims to accelerate the strategic development of the business event industry of their cities, and in less than five years we have been entrusted with such an important role. This is truly an honour for KZN and it will go a long way towards positioning us as Africa’s leading business tourism destination.
“We are clearly doing something right. In 2013 Durban jumped 60 places in just one year to be in the top 100 world rankings of ICCA. KZN is currently No 2 in terms of delegate numbers after hosting 19 ICCA compliant meetings that brought more than 13 000 delegates to the province in 2014.”
All the member cities that form part of the FCI are seen as the new generation of convention leaders, who use technology, innovation and research to increase the economic benefits of business events for their cities and the tourism business industry as a whole. “To be given the responsibility to lead this team is definitely no mean feat, and indeed a great honour,” concluded Mr Mabuyakhulu.
Commenting about the importance of business tourism to the province and the city, the chief executive officer of Tourism KZN, Ndabo Khoza, said: “Business events are a key part of building a thriving tourism sector for any destination. Many of the business travellers will either come early or stay longer after the conference and the world trends show that they are most likely to visit again as leisure tourists in the near future.”
KwaZulu-Natal recently hosted the Association for South Africa Travel Agents (ASATA) Conference which was attended by more than 200 senior travel professionals over a period of three days at the Durban waterfront.
Commenting on the success of the conference, ASATA chief executive officer, Otto de Vries, raved about the reviews received from the delegates and said: “The feedback received from all involved has been most positive and we are convinced our members are encouraged to consider Durban for future events coming out of their respective businesses.”
Over the next few months, KZN will be hosting a number of world class conferences such as the 21st Baptists World Congress in July, the Loerie Awards in August and the 14th World Forestry Congress in September.
“Conferences of such natures bring thousands of delegates to our province and are the type of initiatives that ensure that we remain significant role players in the tourism sector,” concluded Mr Khoza.
Durban and KZN were rated as Africa’s best MICE destination in 2012 and 2013 by the Business Destinations magazine, and Africa’s leading meetings and conference destination at the World Tourism Awards in 2014.