Written by...... Jonny Williamson
When it comes to travelling in South Africa, two names never take long to make an appearance, Johannesburg and Cape Town. The country’s first and second largest cities respectively both have been popular destinations for either business and pleasure for years. But now it would seem there is a new kid on the block, Durban.
Situated on South Africa’s east coast, Durban is the largest city in the KwaZulu-Natal province and the third largest in the country. Famous for having the country’s busiest port, the recent MasterCard Global Destination Cities Indexhas predicted that Durban will not only be this year’s fastest-growing city in Africa, it would be the second-fastest growing tourism city of the 132 cities surveyed worldwide. The accolade follows hot on the heels of US news network CNN naming Durban as one of the ten most underrated cities in the world, along with others including Darwin, Australia and Lisbon, Portugal.
Often overlooked in the past, Durban has experienced a boom since becoming the host city for the 2010 World Cup, resulting in the construction of the impressive Moses Mabhida Stadium– more than worth a visit to the city on its own. Supporting the roof and rising 106m (348ft) above the pitch, the striking arch is just one of the stadiums notable features; others include a football museum and sports institute. Moses Mabhida also caters for business needs, with a presidential atrium, exclusive restaurants and VIP conference rooms, perfect for hosting anything from annual meetings to product launches.
Aside from Moses Mabhida, there is also the ICC Durban, formerly the International Convention Centre, one of the most advanced conference facilities, not only in Africa, but in the world. Located in the centre of the city, and only 15 minutes from the airport, the centre features three individual halls which can be opened up to create one expansive space . Adjacent to the Durban Exhibition Centre, which has two large halls itself, both centres can be opened up and joined to accommodate up to 10,000 visitors. The space on offer can be fully-customised and modified to suit any event, be it awards banquet, conference or exhibition.
Once business has been concluded Durban offers a variety of activities ranging from the vast Suncoast Casino complex, to a multitude of relaxing golden beaches, nearby World Heritage Sites–the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the Drakensberg Mountains, Ushaka Marine World– with one of the world’s largest aquarium, and the Golden Mile – a stretch of beachfront blending traditional market vendors with contemporary restaurants and bars.