The Investing in African Mining Indaba (conference) kicked off at the Cape Town International Convention Center (CTICC) on Monday, bringing about 8,000 delegates to Africa's largest mining event. The Mining Indaba is the world's largest gathering of most influential stakeholders and decision-makers vested in African mining. This gathering provides an opportunity for international mining analysts, fund managers, investment specialists, and government leaders to meet and exchange current economic and mining developments with the world's leading experts on African mining. The annual conference is organized by Mining Indaba LLC. For more than 20 years, the Investing in African Mining Indaba, in collaboration with its partners in South Africa and the African continent, have channelled billions of dollars into the African mining value chain. Figures show that between 2006 and 2013, the conference generated 485 million rand (about 44 million US dollars) for the local economy and created close to 4,000 direct and indirect jobs. "It (the conference) also provides a boost for the local tourism sector. According to Mining Indaba figures, last year's delegates spent 20,000 room nights at 40 local hotels," said Alan Winde, member of executive council (MEC) of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism in the Western Cape Province. In the last financial year, Wesgro, the Western Cape's trade, investment and tourism destination promotion agency, secured 19 conference bids worth 347 million rand (about 32 million dollars), which drew 27,580 delegates to the province. In this year, local authorities aim to attract 34,000 conference delegates and bids valued at 360 million rand (about 33 million dollars). "Business tourism is very lucrative as business travellers have a higher spend than leisure tourists, which in turn creates more jobs," Winde said in his welcoming address. Over the past nine years of its existence, the CTICC has contributed nearly 20 billion rand (about 1.8 billion dollars) to South Africa's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In 2016 it is projected that the CTICC will contribute 705 million rand (about 64 million dollars) to the national GDP, increasing to 1.98 billion rand (about 180 million dollars) by 2018, according to Winde. "The CTICC is a major economic catalyst and the planned expansion of the venue will double its capacity for meetings and exhibitions. This will increase business travel to the province and create more employment opportunities. By 2020, it's expected that the CTICC will sustain close to 3 000 direct and indirect jobs," said Winde.