Durban’s whales festival
First whales conference in Africa to help kick-start new tourism offering of whale watching
EXCITEMENT is mounting as Durban prepares to host its very own annual whale festival, Welcoming of the Whales Festival.
The festival is part of the first ever world whales conference to take place in Africa and is expected to help Durban kick- start its new tourism offering of whale watching, which will be anchored in the south of Durban.
The World Cetacean Alliance (WCA) organised event will be held at the Durban ICC from June 24 to 29.
Sharyn Taylor of WCA said the organisation was also assisting its conference partner Sodurba (South Durban) Tourism Association to launch the whale festival which it is hoped will become an annual event to celebrate the annual migration of humpback whales along the east coast of Africa.
She said this was an opportunity for all stakeholders involved with cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) to join hands, share knowledge, set new standards and learn through collaborating with marine mammal experts, whale watching companies, the travel industry and other interested bodies.
Taylor said the conference aims to set new whale watching and tourism guidelines and establish objectives in protecting all cetaceans.
She said keeping animals in captivity, the establishment of whale sanctuaries and threats to cetaceans are among the topics that will be discussed.
Taylor said one of major highlights of the conference will be a report on the progress made in establishing whale heritage sites as well as whale heritage trails around the world.
The theme of the conference supports the UN’s international year of sustainable tourism for development.
The keynote speaker will be Dr Ken Findlay, who has been extensively involved in international cetacean research projects across the Southern Ocean, the Western Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and local South African waters.
Findlay will speak on blue whale populations in the future.
Another speaker will be Sophie Bachet Granados, the international director of the world-renowned Blue Flag eco-label ( blueflag.global) run by the Foundation for Environmental Education. She will speak on whale diving as a tourism attraction.
With tourism being one of the sectors of the economy that is growing, the whale conference and accompanying whale festival are set to broaden Durban and KwaZulu-Natal’s tourism base by adding new attractions to the province’s existing bouquet.
CAUSING A SPLASH: Durban is preparing to host the Welcoming of the Whales Festival, the first-ever world whales conference to take place in Africa, at the Durban ICC from June 24 to 29.