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Sunday, September 5, 2021


(Above: Lindiwe Rakharebe)

Durban’s International Convention Centre has added yet another award to its large collection with its CEO Lindiwe Rakharebe winning the Venue Representative of the Year category of the seventh Women in MICE Awards.

Meetings magazine and The Planner Guru website jointly hosted the celebration of the leading Women in the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) industry to recognise and acclaim the important role women play in the sector.

Rakharebe’s award was given to “the woman who has ensured the highest standards of guest and staff well-being by moving swiftly to implement measures that not only meet all requirements but exceed them”.

Over the past year, the Durban ICC has proved that opportunities can be extracted from every challenge. The manner in which the Durban ICC revised its approach and re-organised its operations in response to the Covid-19 pandemic will stand it in good stead in the years ahead.

Innovation came to the fore with the introduction of hybrid meetings which saw person/face-to-face attendees connecting virtually with other meeting attendees. Ageing infrastructure was refurbished and revamped, staff were upskilled and trained in new areas of operations, and prudent expenditure principles were put in place as revenue dwindled.

Rakharebe said she shared her award with every member of her team: “The devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought travel and conference tourism to a standstill, was a major blow.

“It was only the fortitude and resilience of our employees that has ensured the Durban ICC is fit and ready to bounce back after the pandemic. We are confident that bookings will resume when this plague has been eliminated, allowing us to once again take the number one spot as Africa’s leading convention centre.

“Our contingency measures will ensure that the Durban ICC continues to provide the highest levels of infrastructure and service standards, in keeping with the multitude of service excellence awards we have achieved over the years.

“It also means that our highly skilled staff will face the delegates and visitors of the future. Our naturally friendly and welcoming people are our greatest asset,” she said.

Glen Mashinini, Chairman of the Board of Durban ICC said: “We are proud of the deserved recognition that has been bestowed on Ms Rakharebe for her sound leadership and outstanding achievements at a critical time: “Ms Rakharebe has motivated the Durban ICC team’s efforts to put new measures in place, uphold all principles of corporate governance, diligent oversight and efficient financial and supply chain processes.

“The Durban ICC has maintained all its ISO accreditations under difficult trading conditions, ensuring that it maintains its world-class standards. It has also maintained its five-star rating for service excellence.

“These achievements reinforce our confidence in the Durban ICC’s ability to return to its sterling performance in pre-pandemic years.

“We remain confident that the Durban ICC, and the tourism trade it supports, will resume with additional impetus after the pandemic is brought under control to continue making its valuable contribution to the city’s economy, providing employment and sustaining many livelihoods in the tourism sector’s broad value chain,” he said.

Shanna Jacobsen, Managing Editor of Meetings magazine and The Planner Guru, part of the 3S Media group and the producers of the Women in MICE Awards, said: “After what has been an exceptionally challenging year for the MICE industry, we are pleased that we can recognise women within the industry who are demonstrating excellence within their respective fields and paving the way forward for an inclusive industry.

“We feel that Lindiwe Rakharebe is an ideal candidate for the Venue Representative of the Year award - not only is she an excellent businesswoman who has had to make some incredibly difficult decisions over the past year but she is a woman who leads with her whole heart.”

The Durban ICC has been voted Africa’s leading meetings and conference centre by the World Travel Awards 17 times in the last 18 years.