DURBAN's Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (ICC) has contributed R2,3billion to South Africa's gross domestic product this year.

This is according to a study conducted by the ICC in conjunction with the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business.

Chief executive Miller Matola said the true value of the ICC and its economic contribution to both the local and national economy has been understated for many years.

"Over the past three financial years - 2007, 2008 and 2009 - the Durban ICC made a cumulative contribution to GDP of over R6billion."

He said R1billion was pumped into the KwaZulu-Natal economy and that the ICC generated R717,9million in foreign exchange income.

He said R558million was in taxes from activities associated with the ICC and nearly R3,1billion was from general income.

The study also showed that the ICC has made a significant contribution to both direct and indirect job creation.

It sustained 3218 direct jobs in 2007. In 2008 this figure dropped to 2595, largely due to a reduction in capital expenditure between the two years, but rose again to 3147 in 2009.

He said the largest contributor to job creation was delegate expenditure, creating a total of 6475 jobs over three years.

Indirect job numbers totalled 11883 in the three-year period.

"Despite the global economic slowdown negatively impacting businesses, the ICC produced revenues of R127million, performing 47percent better than budget, which is an outstanding achievement by the ICC team," Matola said.

He said they exceeded the annual budgeted turnover by 47percent, produced positive results for most financial performance indicators, and provided a 23percent year-on-year growth in economic impact.

"Revenues increased by 36percent on the previous year and costs were sufficiently maintained to render our operations self-funding for the first time since we began operating," said Matola.

ICC board chairperson Mato Madlala said the centre exceeded growth expectations and contributed significantly to the development of the City of Durban in terms of economic impact, transformation and job creation.

"Our employees have good reason to be proud of their achievements," she said.