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Local and international experts to speak at symposium to boost investment for KZN tourism

Some of the world’s top tourism experts are among the speakers at the TIA360 eThekwini Tourism Investment Symposium – which aims to boost and attract investment to Kwa-Zulu Natal’s tourism industry – which takes place online on Thursday, August 5.

The primary aim of this conference is to help local tourism projects receive much-needed funding and support by matching them with potential investors and supportive stakeholders.

There are six sessions throughout the day: AgriTourism; Community Tourism; Eventing4Tourism; Tech4Tourism; Finance4Tourism and Education4Tourism, running from 09:00 to 18:00, with global and local experts taking part.

Participation is free and anyone interested in attending can register at

Richard Perez, founding director of the Hasso Plattner D-School at the UCT Business School, will kick off the conference with the first keynote address “Re-imagining Tourism Through Human-Centred Design – Passion for Africa. Perez is a design thinking specialist whose motivation is to get project teams to innovate.

Chris Flynn

Other notable guests include:

Chris Flynn, who is currently president and CEO of the World Tourism Association for Culture & Heritage Australia. With 36 years’ executive level experience in international tourism and aviation and having worked in a wide range of countries across four continents, Flynn has developed an intimate knowledge of the industry and the requirements needed to identify critical trends that have the potential to influence development and expansion.

The UK’s Ged Brown, founder and CEO of Low Season Traveller, the world’s first organisation completely dedicated to the promotion of travel during the off- seasons in each destination, as a way to alleviate the growing problem of over-tourism. With more than 20 years’ experience developing business relationships in the global travel and tourism industry, Brown has held senior management positions at many prominent travel organisations such as Thomas Cook, Travel Weekly, MyTravel, TUI and Kuoni.

Dr Thabo Lehlokoe, co-founder and chairman of Seemahale Investment Corporation, Seenergy and Seemahale Telecoms Proprietary Limited, a medical doctor turned entrepreneur with a special interest in ICTs. He is also the Executive Chairman of Tafari Capital, which has developed and launched Africa’s first Integrated Digital Finance and Commerce Platform to address the extensive needs of the African consumers, entrepreneurs and businesses and to resolve socio-economic concerns of financial inclusion, market access and opportunity creation.

Dr Thabo Lehlokoe

Kenyan Judy Kepher who, in 2018, was recognised by Women Academics in Tourism (WAIT) as among the Top 50 Awesome Scholars in Tourism. In 2019, she was awarded the Sustainable Citizen Award by Forbes Woman Africa in recognition of her outstanding contribution to awareness and knowledge of sustainability in tourism in Africa and beyond. In 2020, the Centre for Responsible Tourism awarded her a lifetime achievement award for her contribution to sustainable tourism and in the same year she was named amongst 40 global shakers in sustainable tourism.

Natalia Bayona, leader of the Innovation at the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). In 2016, she began her 10-year tenure in ProColombia, during which time she has lived in six countries developing strategies that boost export, foreign investment and tourism for Colombia.

Judy Kepher Gona

Also in attendance: TIA360 CEO , Sindile Xulu; Sumaria Isaacs, CEO World Tourism Forum Institute; Bongani Ntombela, Deputy Chair Tourism Forum at the Durban Chamber of Commerce; Winile Mntungwa; Deputy Head, Durban Tourism; Markus Nellessen, Event Manager bei LUV GmbH – Formula 1, Oktoberfest German and Dubai; Sgwili Gumede, Executive Director at the Brand School & Sport Boardroom; Ged Brown, founder and CEO Low Season Traveller; John Aritho, Chairperson Tourism Forum, Durban Chamber of Commerce; Maylene Broderick, Chief Director Enterprise Development & Transformation at the National Department of Tourism; Jacqui Taylor; Founder of AgriTourism SA; Sinelizwi Fakade, rural development specialist and commercial farmer; Cathy Goddard, CEO & Founding Partner, FyreFem Fund Managers; Natalia Bayona, Director of Innovation, Education, and Investments at United Nations World Tourism Organisation; Bunny Bhoola, MD at African Link Tourism; Raj Moodley, Director LeadHR Consulting; Karen Borain, Training Manager at Tsogo Sun Hotels; Kevin Czok, Managing Partner, Hotel Data Cloud Dubai; Dorian Toussaint, Tech Co-Founder, Ground Transport Distribution Solution; Willy Seyama, Founder and CEO, eNitiate; Atul Padalkar; Principal at Bizfarm; Tanya van Lill, CEO at Southern African Venture Capital & Private Equity Association.

Closing keynote speakers will be Google South Africa’s head of retail, tech, travel and gaming Linah Maigurira and Russell Curtis, head of Invest Durban, & Durban Chamber Board Member

eThekwini Mayor, Cllr Mxolisi Kaunda, who will welcome guests and visitors to the symposium says: “Despite the recent unrest and destruction in parts of KwaZulu Natal, it is now more important than ever to push ahead with this, to ensure tourism projects receive vital funding and support from supportive stakeholders and potential investors.”

The virtual conference will be held in partnership with eThekwini Municipality’s Invest Durban unit as the lead, supported by Durban Tourism, the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, plus investment industry leaders such as SAVCA (the SA Venture Capital Association). 

It will take place via Zoom with this year’s theme being “A Dream, a Pipeline and Sustainable Rebirth”.

Register here:

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