Pretoria — The sunny coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal will play host to the Tourism Indaba for the next five years.
President Jacob Zuma made the announcement during the opening of the 2017 Tourism Indaba today at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu welcomed the news on behalf of the people of KwaZulu-Natal and the entire national Cabinet.
"We thank you for all your support in hosting this very important Tourism Indaba over the past years. I am sure that we will all appreciate the fact that the art of marketing is rapidly becoming complex, with the advent of information technology allowing broader reach of potential tourists across the world through internet, e-mails and satellite broadcast.
"While acknowledging the significance of the information highway in the growth of tourism, some conventional marketing instruments, such as exhibitions, are still relevant today than ever before.
"The concept of exhibitions and trade fairs will continue to be an integral part of the provincial government marketing strategy. These are most interactive platforms of communicating to the target audience and to consumers of our tourism products."
"Importantly, this personal and human interaction helps reduce the levels of doubt about each other's tourism packages, confirming the old adage of 'seeing is believing'. As the provincial government, we will continue to work with the national government and industry stakeholders in order to grow the tourism industry," he said.
KZN - a tourism gem
Premier Mchunu said in KwaZulu-Natal, tourism's contribution to GDRP is standing at around R30 billion, about 10% of the provincial economy.
He said the province currently attracts about 1.3 million foreign visitors and 13.9 million domestic tourism trips on an annual basis.
Thousands of local and international visitors flock to the city of Durban each year as it is known for its warm climate and exciting beaches.
"Along the KwaZulu-Natal coast, visitors find breath-taking beaches and secluded bays to enjoy the summer sun or escape the noise of the city.
"The Kingdom of the Zulu is not to be seen, you have to feel it. It boasts two World Heritage Sites, game parks and vast land with breath-taking landscape. Beautiful weather and the abundance of fauna and flora is what attract domestic and international tourists," Premier Mchunu said.
Premier Mchunu said a trip to the northern parts of the province will give delegates the unique opportunity to climb the valleys and hills overlooking many rivers that run ceaselessly day and night.
According to the Premier, UThukela and Umfolozi rivers have nurtured the nation and continue to be a source of inspiration for the Rainbow Nation.
Premier Mchunu urged the international delegates attending the Tourism Indaba to register for the Mandela Marathon, scheduled to take place on 27 August 2017.
Entries for this year's race are open and will close at midnight on 31 July.
The province is expecting 15 000 participants. The main prize for the main race of 42km will be R100 000, R20 000 for the 21km race and R10 000 for the 10km race.
"The Mandela Marathon is not only about running but it is aimed at mobilising society to preserve the legacy of Tata Mandela.
"After attaining democracy, President Nelson Mandela used sports to unite our people. Tata Madiba healed our wounds and established the rainbow nation very firmly. He set us on the path of nation building and prosperity and made us a respected member of the world community of nations.
"He taught us that all South Africans have equal claim to this country, and that there can be no lasting peace unless all of us, black and white, learn to live together in harmony and peace," Premier Mchunu said.
Encouraging delegates to explore the province, Premier Mchunu said KwaZulu-Natal is a hub for water sports and a variety of thrilling activities such as Amashovashova - the Cycle Race and Comrades Marathon.
The 2017 Tourism Indaba will end on Thursday, 18 May.