eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Having been chosen to host the tourism Indaba for another five years, eThekwini Municipality says it will intensify efforts to grow township tourism.

The tourism Indaba — a government initiative with strong, private sector participation — has been going for some 35, with Durban being the host city for much of the last 20 years. An estimated 70,000 visitors — including more than 10,000 exhibitors — attended the annual three-day event which ended on Thursday.

President Jacob Zuma announced during the opening ceremony that Durban will host the event for another five years.

On Thursday, mayor Zandile Gumede said this affirmed the city as one of the fastest growing global tourism destinations, and that the city will use the next five years to ensure the benefits from tourism are shared.

"We have decided to use the next five years of hosting the tourism Indaba to ensure that we expand the industry to the township to bring about radical economic transformation," Gumede said. "We will start focusing more on our townships to expose the tourism ventures there to the global and domestic tourism markets."

She said partnering with certain ventures was starting to transform the industry, as well as growing township tourism initiatives. Results of this can be seen in Umlazi’s Max’s Lifestyle and Eyadini Lounge, both popular restaurants.

Her sentiments were echoed by Max Mqadi, the owner of Max’s Lifestyle. "The support of government and the municipality has ensured that this place is growing from strength to strength," he said. "International and domestic tourists who want to experience township life come here. This has had knock-on effect on other local businesses. Some tourists want to experience sleeping in a township and some local people are now starting B&Bs, and these are also growing."

Barba Gaoganediwe, of Gauteng Tourism, said, "Township destinations should not only get the crumbs of the tourism market. Township destinations should be marketed well so they are able to stand on their own and attract and carve a niche of their own in the tourism industry."

Some of the exhibitors at the Indaba said the falling rand could be a blessing in disguise for the local tourism industry.


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