Durban life on show in London

Durban – its tourist attractions, lifestyle and food – is on show at one of London’s most famous upmarket stores, and the high-powered promotion has already had positive spin-offs.

The trendy National Geographic store in Knightsbridge has adopted a Durban look and feel to coincide with the launch of the latest phase in the National Geographic marketing campaign.

Last year, in a bid to re-position Durban as a global city with rich culture, heritage and urban lifestyle – and also boost the city’s tourism figures – Durban Tourism launched a short vignette that has since been seen by some 100 million viewers around the world.

Now the second part of the campaign – the launch of a 25-minute documentary about the city – was unveiled at the National Geographic store on Thursday.

“More than 60 international tour operators attended the launch, as well as international travel writers,” Philip Sithole, the head of Durban Tourism, said from London.

Eighty percent of the operators were either directors or senior managers. Although many were already doing business with South Africa, those who did not know much about Durban were now planning to focus on the city, he said.

“They eagerly indicated their commitments to include Durban in their brochures and travel packages for their clients. Now we will have to link the Durban trade with buyers to finalise their packages,” Sithole said.

“The documentary was well received. People liked it because it was real: it talked about the history and culture of Durban, showed various areas of the city, the townships and nightlife, and showed we were a cosmopolitan city.”

Visitors to the National Geographic store will be able to watch bunny chow demonstrations, and see visuals of the city and arts and crafts displays.

The documentary also features Cape Town, which has joined in the big international promotion with Durban.

Titled A World In Two Cities, the documentary is set to be launched to the local tourism trade and the media on May 10, the day before the start of the four-day Tourism Indaba at the ICC.

A row erupted at a recent eThekwini council meeting about the city’s plan to send eight delegates to the London launch of the documentary, with some councillors arguing that the proposed cost of R350 000 could be reduced if fewer delegates attended.

Sithole said that only five people went to London: two representing the uMlazi and Clermont Community Tourism Organisations, deputy mayor Nomvuzo Shabalala, Dr Naledi Moyo-Ndwandwe, the deputy city manager for sustainable development and city enterprises, as well as Sithole himself. – Daily News

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