ICC Durban - new African convention destination

ICC Durban

The allure of the warm Indian Ocean, a strong African heritage and year-round perfect weather conditions are a few of the natural assets that Durban, South Africa, can offer its guests.

This tropical city's riches have recently expanded with the opening of the R260 million International Convention Centre Durban (ICC Durban), which is proving to be the catalyst the city needs to become a serious contender in the world conference market.

Only three months after President Nelson Mandela declared ICC Durban officially open, the centre has managed to secure 500 provisional bookings, representing an additional R400 million to the business sector. The most recent booking was made by the International Society of Surgeons for the 2005 World Congress of Surgery, which is expected to attract up to 5,000 surgeons from all over the world.

Durban made its mark by scoring the highest majority vote in the 100 years of the staging of the World conference. An overwhelming 51 per cent of the International Society members chose Durban as the destination for the 2005 congress, with the runner-up, Montreal, Canada, scoring 13 per cent.

Durban was the favourite for several reasons: the world-class facilities offered by ICC Durban, plus the proximity of the centre to accommodation and leisure facilities, as well as the easy access to ideal pre and post-convention tour destinations.

As a year-round holiday high-spot, Durban offers just about everything the visitor could reasonably require. One of the world's fastest-growing cities, Durban - the world's ninth biggest harbour - has a truly cosmopolitan cultural mix and a solid tourism infrastructure.

International interest in the city has led to the establishment of a 340-room international Hilton Hotel on the site adjacent to ICC Durban, as well as the refurbishment of several beachfront hotels. Within the parameters of the Durban Functional Region, there are over 18,000 hotel rooms and self-catering apartments. The positioning of the Durban Exhibition Centre opposite ICC Durban offers maximum convenience for the staging of conventions requiring large areas of exhibition space.

The international airport is a mere 15-minute drive from ICC Durban, whilst beachfront hotels, restaurants, shops, sporting facilities and the central business district are within easy walking distance. ICC Durban, which adds a further 5,000 convention seats to the 19,000 already existing in the city, was designed in consultation with international experts and convention 'buyers'.

Flexibility and versatility are key factors in the design of the building, which can be adapted to the client's needs for a wide range of events: international conventions, sporting events, arts festivals, product launches, seminars, concerts or social occasions.

One of the unique features is the 1,800 raked-seating system in the Plenary Hall, which can be lifted into the ceiling, leaving flat floor space below and a starry night ceiling effect provided by fibre optic lighting on the underside of the seating.

Facilities include:

  • 1,800-seat raked Plenary Hall capable of subdivision into 2 x 900 seat auditoria;
  • plenary sessions for up to 5,000 delegates;
  • banqueting for up to 2,500 guests;
  • over 20 meeting rooms for all requirements;
  • 7,000 m2 of flat floor space - sub-divisable into a wide variety of room sizes;
  • three landscaped outdoor courtyard venues of over 1,000 m2 each;
  • floor loading of up to 15kns. (1.5 tons);
  • 6 m x 6 m underground service grid in main halls;
  • central kitchen with 15 servery kitchens capable of serving food and beverages to all function rooms;
  • business centre with full communication facilities;
  • state-of-the-art audiovisual facilities;
  • interpretation facilities for five languages and a base language;
  • undercover parking for up to 700 cars;
  • fully air conditioned;
  • large exhibition loading yards.

Exceptional standards of cuisine are delivered by the Centre's 'cosmopolitan' culinary team comprising: Swiss Executive Chef Markus Banziger; German Executive Sous-Chef Gunther Beissel; a Zulu Pastry Chef who trained at the Villa d'Este in Italy; kosher and Indian chefs.

Chief Executive Officer Peter Brokenshire who hails from Australia, and has been involved in the opening of four international purpose-built convention centres around the world including the Adelaide Convention Centre and Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur, feels that the major plusses for ICC and the city of Durban in terms of becoming a world-class convention destination lie in the flexibility of the centre plus its close proximity to a wide variety of exciting and economical options for pre and post-convention tours.

The city is positioned between sub-tropical beaches and the rolling waves of the warm Indian Ocean on the eastern side, the rugged Drakensberg mountain range is a two-hour drive away on the western side and in the north a choice of game parks, home to the 'Big Five'.

Hluhluwe and Umfolozi game reserves, (a three to four-hour drive from the city), have large concentrations of black and white rhino, whilst St Lucia, Ndumo and Kosi Bay are a paradise for bird-watchers, with a variety and quality of birds that include rare and exotic species.

Other options for convention delegates are wilderness trails, deep sea fishing, diving, white-water rafting or sailing. Some of the world's finest golf courses, including Port Zimbali, Selborne and the Wild Coast Sun lie on both the north and south coasts.

Further afield lies the Kruger National Park, as well as the scenic splendour of Cape Town, with an endless choice of world-renowned wine farms to visit. The commercial hub of South Africa lies in Johannesburg, which is a one-hour flight from Durban.

Neighbouring countries - Zimbabwe, with the Victoria Falls and Botswana with the tranquility of The Okavango Delta - add to the selection of tantalising tour options stemming from a convention spent in Durban, South Africa.

For more information, contact ICC Durban, 45 Ordanacle Road, Durban, 4001, PO Box 155, Durban, South Africa. Tel: 00 27 31 360 1000 Fax: 00 27 31 360 1050