Woman Walking on Pathway While Strolling Luggage
Woman Walking on Pathway While Strolling Luggage - Representational Image. Oleksandr P/Pexels.com

Over 9,000 delegations from 25 countries are expected to attend Africa's Travel Indaba (ATI) 2024, which will be held from May 13 to May 16 at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

The event, held under the theme of "Unlocking Opportunities," will serve as a platform for the tourism industry to unlock multiple opportunities. More than 120 small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) are expected to participate in the event.

Acting CEO for Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN) Sibusiso Gumbi said on Sunday that out of these SMMEs, 15 of them are based in KwaZulu-Natal. These 15 companies are part of TKZN's Tourism Enterprise Development Program.

"These fledgling businesses exhibiting on the TKZN stand have an integral part to play in the growth and development of the tourism sector. SMMEs not only contribute to job creation but are important for bringing new products to market and creating jobs," Gumbi said, SA News reported.

He added, "In fact, small businesses account for more than 80% of the tourism industry as a whole. We want SMMEs to grow into substantial players in this critical sector of our economy. However, we know transformation will not occur spontaneously but requires a deliberate and sustained effort from all stakeholders."

This is one of the main reasons that the Tourism KwaZulu-Natal has implemented various programs to ensure that the local SMMEs get the much-needed support, enabling small companies to get more opportunities in the tourism businesses.

The Chairperson of Thekwini Municipality's Economic Development and Planning Committee Thembo Ntuli said hosting this four-day event will help the city's economic condition.

"Hotel occupancy is expected to be between 85% and 95%. The total expected spending is estimated at R177 million, contributing R439 million to eThekwini's GDP with 796 jobs to be created," Ntuli said.

Earlier this month, the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) said public-private partnerships (PPPs) are important for unlocking economic opportunities of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in the transport and logistics industry.

DBSA, a government-owned development finance institution, finances infrastructure projects in six sectors including transport and logistics, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), water and sanitation; energy, social and housing.