Dur­ban’s whales fes­ti­val

First whales con­fer­ence in Africa to help kick-start new tourism of­fer­ing of whale watch­ing

The New Age (Free State) - - KWAZULU-NATAL NEWS - SIHLE MAVUSO prov­inces@the­newage.co.

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.

PIC­TURE: GETTY IMAGES

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.

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