Tourism is a key economic driver for Durban. As such about 65 000 people are employed in the tourism industry.
Recently voted by CNN as one of the worlds’ significant underrated cities and as South Africa friendliest destination – Durban’s payoff line “the warmest place to be” and its strong global marketing appears to be paying dividends.
The key markets for international tourists are, in order, the UK followed by the USA and Germany and India. Nationally, Gauteng province, the major economic core, accounts for 80 percent of local tourism.
The major national chains such as Hilton, Tsogo Sun, Protea, and Holiday Inn are all represented in the city, as well as many smaller boutique hotels and numerous Bed and breakfast and alternative holiday establishments. The hotels are principally located along the so-called Golden Mile opposite the central Durban Beaches famous for surfing and relaxation, along a recently revamped beachfront walkway of international standard. Other hotels are along the beaches of Umhlanga Rocks, an upmarket holiday suburb some 20 km north of the CBD and many B&B are found in the up market area, 10 Km north of Durban, in a suburb known as Durban North and La Lucia.
To support the accommodation element of tourism, Durban has many and varied restaurants and a vibey nightlife. It also has major attractions, such as the uShaka Marine theme park, the Moses Mahbida Stadium, miles of beaches, adventure and eco tourism, cultural trails and experiences, and historical buildings.
Aside of leisure visitors, conferencing and conventions paly as big role, especially at the Albert Luthuli (ICC) Convention Centre which is an award winning multi purpose large scale facility that was recently voted the best of it’s kind in Africa. Major international conferences such as COP17, the Non Aligned Movement (NAM), World Architecture, World AIDS have highlighted the city’s organisational capability. The annual Tourism Indaba, the biggest Tourism marketplace in Africa, has been held in the city for over 20 years.
Another success story has been the staging of major events, from the Soccer World Cup in 2010 to numerous other sporting events and music and art festivals. Durban has proven itself to be organisationally highly competent in securing infrastructural support around events and managing a key and busy annual events calendar. It is highly rated as a successful city for staging major events thanks to years of experience.
Shopping (from other African countries) as well as business and educational facilities are niche growth markets and medical tourism could be a likely future role.