The annual Cape Town Carnival, a glamorous celebration of African identity, diverse communities and cultures, was launched on Wednesday.
This year's carnival, themed "Imagine", will be used as a key driver for job creation and skills development for hundreds of local residents, said Alan Winde, MEC (member of executive council) of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism in the Western Cape Province.
The carnival holds major economic benefits for residents, while also providing a platform for the celebration of the diversity of the Western Cape's cultural traditions, Winde said as he launched the event.
"The Cape Town Carnival illustrates the significance of cultural tourism and how this region can offer visitors very unique experiences," Winde said.
"It is also playing an important role in job creation: 642 work opportunities were created last year, the majority of which were for youth. These young people have the opportunity to shadow and assist experienced artisans allowing them to obtain valuable on the job experience." He added.
The carnival also provides a boost for local entrepreneurs in the clothing industry, particularly for small Cut, Make and Trim (CMT) businesses, according to Winde.
As an iconic celebration, the carnival is one of the events that supports the economy in Western Cape. Major events hosted in the province generated 1.3 billion rand (about 118 million dollars) for the provincial economy in the previous financial year.
It is estimated that these events attracted 196,600 tourists.
The Cape Town Carnival takes place against the backdrop of the city hosting the World Design Capital (WDC) 2014. "I'm looking forward to see how our carnival organizers showcase the WDC 2014 accolade," said Winde.
The carnival will reach a climax on Mar. 15 with a spectacular celebration showcasing art, music and dance at the Fan Walk, Somerset Road in Green Point.
The Stadium Forecourt will host band performances and stalls in the afternoon and then the Carnival Parade will kicks off at 19:00, culminating in a festive after party.