Windhoek – The Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) could come to Southern Africa next year as the eastern city of Durban in South Africa has registered its ambition to host the much sought-after continental trade fair held last week for the first time in Cairo, Egypt, where over US$30 billion in business deals were signed.
Speaking to CNBC Africa during the IATF, Phindile Makwakwa, acting CEO of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, said Durban was ready to host the event as it has some of the best infrastructure on the African continent and has hosted major international events in the past, such as the World AIDS Congress and the COP17.
The IATF provides a platform for sharing trade, investment and market information and enabling buyers and sellers, investors and countries to meet, discuss and conclude business deals and also interact on how to increase the levels of intra-African trade in the African regions.
Makwakwa said before hosting an event, the first important thing is to have the infrastructure and ability to be open for business tourism.
“We believe what makes our job much easier is the fact that we have one of the best infrastructure within the continent, whether we talk of road infrastructure, hotels – enough hotel beds,” added Makwakwa.
She boasted about the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban, which she said has won accolades for Africa’s best convention centre for 13 years running.
Makwakwa said another thing that also stood out in Durban was the flight connectivity to the city as many major airlines, such as British Airways fly directly there.
In terms of business, she said Durban has the KwaZulu-Natal Convention Bureau, which injects close to half-a-billion rand in business events every year, while business tourism equally attracts huge inputs.
“When talking of business tourism, in particular, we tend to look at business triggered events that translate into leisure tourism because you will find that a typical long haul destination like ours – when we have delegates coming to our destination, they would tend to want to stay prior to the conference or after and become leisure tourists,” she beamed.
Makwakwa said business tourism in KwaZulu-Natal was massive that it could be measured in terms of business and leisure.
Durban is a coastal city in eastern South Africa’s KwaZulu-National with a host of attractions ranging from the seafront promenade which runs from uShaka Marine World, a huge theme park with an aquarium, the futuristic Moses Mabhida Stadium built for the 2010 World Cup to the Durban Botanical Gardens, which showcase African plant species.