MAY is a significant month as it marks the 60th anniversary of the signing of the African Union founding charter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. At the time, it was known as the Organisation of African Unity. A further 21 members joined gradually, reaching a total of 53 by the time of the African Union’s creation in 2002.
As we celebrate Africa Month during May, we pride ourselves on the fact that we are the City that gave birth to the formation of the African Union. It was launched in Durban in 2002 and we proudly hosted the inaugural summit. I want to take this opportunity to wish our residents and employees a happy Africa Month! Coming back to service delivery related matters, on behalf of the City leadership, I want to express our excitement that the City is working towards re-claiming the title of being an events capital. This comes as the City hosted the 2023 Africa Travel Indaba, which was a phenomenal success. According to initial indications, this year’s Indaba surpassed projections with an impressive 8 629 delegates attending. Furthermore, 21 000 meetings between exhibitors and international buyers were held over the three-day event.
Around 1 000 international buyers attended while 1 023 exhibitors showcased an impressive array of tourism products on offer. Africa’s Travel Indaba contributes significantly to the Durban Gross Domestic Product (estimated at R130 million), hotel and non-hotel occupancy (at 80 per cent), and actual spending (amounting to R78 million). This also resulted in the creation of 250 job opportunities. Hot on the heels of Africa’s Travel Indaba, we will be hosting the World Table Tennis Championship Finals 2023 taking place from 20 to 28 May at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (Durban ICC). The Indaba was also held at the world-class Durban ICC. Teams from across the world have started arriving in the City to take part in the championship. We are expecting over 100 countries to take part in this much anticipated championship.
I encourage residents to make the most of this international event and attend the matches. It is not every day that the best table tennis players in the world are in our City. Hosting the event also gives us confidence that the tourism sector is indeed on the road to recovery. This past weekend (13 and 14 May), an estimated R130 million was injected into the City’s Durban Gross Domestic Product with actual spending of R78 million. This confirms that major events positively contribute to the City’s economy. It therefore remains critical that we continue to promote Durban as a premier destination for business and leisure. It is vital to attract tourists, both domestic and international, to grow the economy and local businesses. This also creates much-needed jobs. We are a City at work!