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Durban ICC Celebrates Two Decades

The Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (Durban ICC) turns 20 on the 8th August, an event that makes winning the coveted title as “Africa’s Leading Meetings and Conference Centre” 15 times in 16 years of participating at the World Travel Awards look like a piece of cake.

Operation Jumpstart launched the Durban ICC project in 1992 with an ambitious goal to build a state-of-the-art multi-purpose convention centre which now has the capacity to host 22 000 people at one gathering.

The Inkosi Albert Luthuli ICC complex offers the largest flat floor, column-free multi-purpose event space in Africa. Incorporating the Durban International Convention Centre, the Durban ICC Arena and Durban Exhibition Centre, the complex offers over 112 000 square meters of flexible exhibition and meeting space.  

The self-sustaining entity of the eThekwini Municipality which thrives on maintaining world-class standards reinvests profits into the facility to ensure it continues to remain the venue of choice for local and international visitors.

Testimony to the sustainability of the Centre is the R30 billion it has generated for the national economy after being built at a cost of R746 million.

“The invaluable support of clients and stakeholders who have been instrumental in the many milestones of the Centre and its ongoing success during the past two decades has not gone unnoticed,” said Lindiwe Rakharebe, Durban ICC’s Chief Executive Officer.

“Just as we have led the way in growing the meetings, conventions and exhibitions sector in South Africa, we look forward to making history in the next 20 years and beyond. Our heartfelt thanks to all stakeholders who have been a part of this positive growth trajectory.”

Durban was the first South African city to establish an international convention centre and was the trailblazer in the growth and development of the business tourism industry in the country.

As a result of the Centre’s activities which attracts international delegates, it is estimated that an additional 856 731 hotel room nights were generated in 2016 alone, thus pointing to the spin-offs for accommodation, food and beverage and retail sub-sectors.

Since the official opening of the Durban ICC by former President Nelson Mandela in 1997, heads of state, royalty, international music artists, business boffins and sporting luminaries have been among the many high profile dignitaries to have graced the stage over the years.

Numerous events which have positioned the Durban ICC on the global conferencing map include, among others, the World Economic Forum on Africa, 21st International AIDS Conference, COP17/21, Tourism Indaba, 4th BRICS International Competition Conference, 14th World Forestry Congress, Africa Peace Awards, 21st World Routes Development Forum, 3rd World Social Science Forum (WSSF), Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture Africa 2015 and transformation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to the African Union (AU).

The Durban ICC prepares to host the 38th International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) Conference in 2018 after Durban was selected as the host city. The event is expected to attract more than 1 200 environmental experts from 87 countries.

As a catalyst for socio-economic growth, the Durban ICC’s cumulative contribution to the GDP of KwaZulu-Natal over the past decade has been R27.8 billion whilst R29.4 billion went into the South African GDP.

In striving towards profitability, the Durban ICC also prides itself as an environmentally responsible organisation with 93 tonnes of total waste sent for recycling and giving back to the community through various social investment projects aimed at improving the lives of people.

Over the past 10 years, the Durban ICC has been responsible for creating and sustaining over 82 000 jobs cumulatively. Of the 164 full-time staff employed by the ICC, 57.5% is female and 67% of senior management are women.

While maintaining its own Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) rating as a level four contributor, much of the organisation’s expenditure is invested with level one and two B-BBEE businesses.

The Durban ICC is ranked top 15 by the International Association of Congress Centres and is currently the only centre in Africa to make it on this list. The Durban ICC is also the only convention centre in the country to hold three international certifications in Quality Management, Environmental Sustainability and Food Safety. The Centre is rated as a five-star venue by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa and holds Gold Status certification in the AIPC Quality Standards programme.

“With its present size and configuration, the Durban ICC is poised to evolve into one of the world’s top 10 global meeting facilities. The next evolutionary growth cycle will usher in a series of revolutionary and innovative strategies.”

“Having led the African continent in its first 20 years of hosting the world, it will now usher in the highest level of technologically advanced meeting facilities. Leadership in service and technology will continue to be the hallmark of our performance excellence,” added Rakharebe.

The Durban ICC’s success can be attributed to the dedication of the long-standing Board of Directors led by Mato Madlala together with Durban ICC staff who aspire to provide a superior service and an accomplished leadership team.

Preparations are underway for the Durban ICC to host its 20th anniversary gala dinner on Friday 25 August, which promises to be an unforgettable guest experience in keeping with the Centre’s relentless commitment to innovation and service excellence.

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