"The Durban ICC has developed its credentials as South Africa's foremost international convention centre delivering fifteen years of world class hospitality and service to our many clients," says Durban ICC's CEO, Julie-May Ellingson.
Operation Jumpstart was created to kick-start development in the city and region and recognised the role that international conferences could play in stimulating the economy of the city, recommending as part of its proposals, a proposal to build an international convention centre in Durban.
Construction began in November 1944 and the Centre was officially opened on 8 August 1997 by President Nelson Mandela.
To cater for increasing demand the Durban ICC was expanded with the opening of the ICC Arena in March 2007 transforming the centre to, what it claims, the largest flat floor, column free exhibitions and meetings space in Africa. Combined with the ICC Exhibition Centre, the Durban ICC can provide up to 33,000sqm of conference and exhibition space. The full complex was renamed the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre Complex in 2007.
The Durban ICC has generated R2.7bn (US$121m) in income over the past 15 years and has established Durban on the conferencing map. South Africa sits 37th in the 2011 International Congress and Convention Association country rankings.
"The Durban ICC was originally developed as a catalyst for economic development and growth at the cost of R900m and it has more than delivered on its return on investment for the city and province," says Ellingson.
The Centre has hosted events such as the Commonwealth heads of Government Meeting in 1999, XIII International AIDS Conference in 2000 and the COP17/CMP7 Climate Change Conference in 2011.
“For those who are still skeptical about the value of the Durban ICC another way of looking at its contribution is to imagine how things might have been if it had not been built. The foresight of those who originally conceptualised the Durban ICC as an important catalyst for economic growth and development cannot be over estimated. The fact that the Durban ICC was the trailblazer for the meetings and conventions industry in South Africa is an enormous accolade for those who pioneered its development in the city,” adds Ellingson.
The Centre was voted Africa's Leading Meetings and Conference Centre by the World Travel Awards, the 10th time the Durban ICC has been awarded this accolade.
“The board and staff of the Durban ICC are very proud of the achievements of the Centre over the past fifteen years” says Ellingson. “The Centre has led the way in terms of the growth of the meetings, conventions and exhibitions sector in South Africa and we look forward to the next fifteen years and beyond.
"Our partnership with the Business Tourism industry has translated into our mutual success and the success of Durban as a major player in the global business tourism industry. We look forward to developing and strengthening our reputation as Africa’s destination of choice for conferences, meetings and exhibitions in the years ahead," she adds.