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Durban,with a population of 4 million, is a major sub-tropical city on the eastern seaboard of South Africa. It is a significant industrial city, second only to Johannesburg as a manufacturing hub. However, Durban lays claim to being the busiest port in South Africa and Africa and has a leading reputation as a tourism, conferencing and events destination. This reputation has no doubt been enhanced by the City’s warm subtropical climate and extensive beaches.

It is the destination city of choice for South African holiday makers and is being marketed internationally through several campaigns such as National Geographic and Eurosport. Currently Durban gets around 4 million local and international tourists – with a combined socio-economic impact of ZAR 5,7 billion (US$ 0,5 billion)

The city has a long and proud surfing tradition dating back many years and has hosted world-class events and produced some of the world’s most famous international surfers.



Durban’s interest in joining the World Surf Cities Network has been driven by the need to exchange ideas on priority projects that had been identified. These projects being the need to improve Durban’s:

Wave Quality;

Share of Surf Tourism and

Surf development amongst the youth

Short-term successes in addressing these priority areas have focussed our interest on medium to long-term projects that will lead to Durban regaining its position as a Premier Surfing destination. Amongst those projects is the need to actively promote surfing within the dynamics of South Africa’s socio-economic fabric; identify opportunities for developmental initiatives; assist the already vibrant entrepreneurs to further grow their businesses; assist new entrants in the industry and promote Durban’s historic position as the leading Surf destination.



As a well-established manufacturing and industrial base, it comes as no surprise that Durban has a decent track record of start-up companies that have, from humble beginnings, become successful Surfing businesses.

An example of an innovation which Durban is extremely proud of is in the success that we have had in reaching out to previously excluded communities. From a background where surfing was seen as an exclusionary sport we have through various programs developed surfers from all walks of life. In fact, it can be argued that surfing’s developmental successes have shamed other sporting codes.

Programs such as “KZN Learn2Surf” program which is based at Addington Beach have taught youngsters to surf; provided them with some sustenance; and provided a platform for them to become surfers and be ocean aware. Youngsters from this program have entered mainstream surfing and have represented the Province at SA Championship level.Another innovation which is world re-known and was televised through Coca Cola on their advertising billboards, is the “surfers, not street children” program. Surfing was introduced to a shelter for street children as a socialization program. Young surfers from that program are now making selection into the provincial surf teams and are able to manage their own tournament. Some have qualified as International judges.

Other innovations are:

Hurricane Surfing

The KZN Sharks Board which is the agency which cleans and repairs and maintains the shark nets which protectt our bathing beaches, have developed a device which emits electrical impulses to keep sharks away from the surfer and other water users.

World reknown ZigZag Surf Magazine and The Bomb surf magazine.

Surfboard developers.

Tommy Lawson has developed a shark repellent, situated inside the surfboard, which is trialling this year.



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.



50 yrs of official formalised surfing in the country is being celebrated in 2015. Durban especially, has produced many world champions including Shaun Tomson, Martin Potter, Twiggy Baker and Jordy Smith. Most surf spots around the country are covered by webcams for live reports on surf conditions.

There are many companies dealing in surf product such as:

SA, especially Durban, is known for its good shapers. Spider’s style developed when he started shaping for Shaun Tomson at the original Safari factory. Spider and Shaun pushed their shapes to the limits and worked closely to develop the ideal board to suit Shaun’s revolutionary style of manoeuvring far back in the barrel. The boards had to be as fast as possible and still have the freedom to manoeuvre from all positions.

Subsequently, Shaun made headlines in Hawaii, blowing everyone away on Spider’s ‘Safari Pipeline Gun’. Shaun taking the ‘Pipe Masters’ title in 1975 and the ‘World Champion’ title in 1977 brought the worlds attention to Spider Murphy’s shaping ability. “This is where the curve of today was developed and we are still shaping ‘Shaun Tomson’ replica’s today and developing new models for the future” 



he municipality in partnership with environmental organisations such as WESSA, DUCT and the Green Corridor project, consistently monitor the use of the beach resources through a national coastal management plan.

Beaches also have their own laws which are enforced by a special police force to control the many activities and events which happen throughout the year, fishing and launching of fishing boats. Dune revitalisation is a big project and the Blue Flag Beach project is very active.  



  • Whats on in Durban –
  • ASP surf event, yearly in July with a surf film festival and beach concerts
  • Sport is one of the major attractions.
  • Many movie houses
  • Ushaka Marine World with surf school, diving school, SUP, Dolphin, seal and penguin show, Aqaurium, Africas highest water slides –
  • Gateway Theatre of Shopping with wave pool –
  • Sibaya Casino and Sun Coast Casino -
  • Valley of 1000 Hills and Heritage Route
  • Harbour and cruises



Surf training happens through the National Surf Federations in partnership with the city and other agencies such as Umthombo Street Shelter – and private professional coaches with sponsors such as Roxy.



In Durban the contact person:

  • Teddi Adams
  • Man: Sport Dev and Recreation
  • Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.