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Monday, 19 June, 2017, 16 : 16 PM [IST]

INDABA 2017, Africa on a Roll

Besides showcasing a plethora of products and experiences for all categories of traveller, the 2017 edition of INDABA further reinforces that Africa is the next tourism frontier. Prasenjit Chakraborty reports.

INDABA needs no introduction as the event over the years has established itself as the most spectacular trade show in the continent of Africa. To be more candid, this is the platform where Africa’s dynamic travel and tourism industry enthusiastically takes centre stage and showcases products to the world. The 2017 edition of INDABA took place against a back drop of the buoyant outlook for African tourism. Therefore, the overall atmosphere was electrifying.

Tokozile Xasa, Minister of Tourism, Republic of South Africa

There are many ‘firsts’ associated with this editionright from rebranding of the show to introductions of new sections. The exhibition, which was so far known as INDABA, has been renamed as Africa’s Travel INDABA. The new positioning reflects the ownership of the trade show by the entire African travel industry and re-emphasises South Africa’s commitment to furthering tourism and economic development in the continent. The exhibition took place at Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre, Durban, from May 16-18, 2017. Around 7,000 delegates, including 1,449 local and international buyers visited the exhibition, and more than 1,000 exhibitors from 18 African countries participated.

L-R: Sisa Nishona, CEO, South African Tourism, Tokozile Xasa and Jacob Zuma

Inaugurating the event, Jacob Zuma, President, Republic of South Africa, said, “INDABA is a wonderful way to celebrate Africa and to showcase the beauty of our country and our continent. Through this show, we bring Africa and the world together, where Africa market itself to the world.” Zuma added that the continent witnessed an increase of 8% of international tourists over the past year, with its arrivals growing at twice the average global rate.

Jacob Zuma, President, Republic of South Africa

The 2017 edition of INDABA also saw the launch of South Africa’s “I Do Tourism” marketing campaign. The campaign will highlight how tourism, a rapidly growing sector, has the potential to change people’s lives for the better. In this direction, Tokozile Xasa, Minister of Tourism, Republic of South Africa, appealed all South Africans to become tourism ambassadors for their own country. She added, “‘I Do Tourism’ as a movement will show the social and economic value of tourism in people’s day-to-day lives.”

Speaking exclusively to TravelBiz Monitor, Sisa Nishona, CEO, South African Tourism, said that their aim is to increase South Africa’s market share globally. “To achieve the goal, we have to further intensify our effort in the existing markets. And at the same time we have to identify new markets which are potential for our business. Once we identify our important source markets, we have to ensure that our country has enough capacity to cater to them” he said. According to him, out of 9 provinces in South Africa, only 3 are leading on the tourism front at this point of time. “We have to make sure that other states also do well in the arena of tourism. One of our advantages is, all the provinces are different and have its own characteristics,” pointed out Nishona. He was optimistic about India and termed the market as important. “We are really serious about India and want to invest more so that we get return faster and will also ensure more number of tourists visit from India to South Africa.

Exhibitor Speak

“We observed that Indian buyers and travellers are showing tremendous interest in South Africa. More and more agents from India who didn’t show much interest earlier in selling South Africa’s products to their customers are now very keen to sell. The reason is their clients now showing interest to visit South Africa and African countries. Apart from Mumbai, Delhi, we are also getting enquiries from Bengaluru, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Cochin and Chennai.”
James Hassan, Customer Success Manager, India, Asia, Thompsons Africa

“India is one of the top five markets for us and growing 40% year-on-year. Our focus is on group and MICE travel and primarily get our business from Delhi and Mumbai. In order to further develop the market, we have appointed a representation company in Mumbai. Plans are afoot to target smaller cities of India as well.”
Martin Wiest, CEO, Tourvest Destination Management

“India is a potential market for us and our business is growing 20-25% every year. We understand the psyche of Indian travellers and accordingly design our products. As of now, our focus is on cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Bengaluru. We may appoint a representation company in India by 2018 but after a thorough analysis.”
Glenn McKeag, CEO, Springbok Atlas

Buyer Speak

‘This is a wonderful experience and the entire show is brilliantly choreographed. South Africa is definitely an emerging destination to be watched out in India. The show will help us to increase our business and also to introduce new destinations to Indian market. By coming here, the possibility of meeting actual suppliers has increased manifolds, which is a great help indeed. We will promote South Africa and beyond.”
Sunil Bijlani, Founding Partner & CEO, Vacation World (Mumbai)

“INDABA is the platform for people who are looking for destinations and products in South Africa and beyond. In this kind of event one will come to know various products which are usually missing in trade shows in India. I came with the intention to meet exhibitors from all over Africa and it has been a satisfactory experience.”
Munib Kadri, Owner, World-Sights (Ahmedabad)

“It’s a wonderful experience and the exhibition will help us to market products beyond South Africa. By visiting the show, we came to know many off-beat itineraries. The event encapsulates everything right from luxury to safari to beaches.”
Ritesh Mundhra, Director, Choice Holidays (Raipur)

“It’s a great experience in terms of number of suppliers and variety of products they are offering to us. After visiting the show, I can market destinations beyond South Africa. The organisers have put serious efforts to make it a meaningful event.”
Chitra Bhatia, MD, Aashman Air Travels Pvt Ltd (New Delhi)

Hidden Gems Pavilion
Hidden Gems Pavilion which was the pioneering public-private partnership was one of the main attractions of this year’s INDABA. This particular section witnessed the participation of 90 small tourism businesses from all the 9 provinces of South Africa and each province had a uniform representation. The aim of the entire exercise is to support innovative small businesses and to help them create sustainable jobs in this sector. Interestingly, most of them have participated for the first time in the event.

“This is really something unique. All the exhibitors in the Hidden Gems section truly offering new products, experiences, etc., to the buyers who are looking for such products,” said Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, Chief Convention Bureau Officer, South African Tourism. These dynamic startups and small enterprises were selected from more than 300 applicants. Selection was not easy, after a rigorous process during which the SMEs had to present their offerings to a panel, only 90 SMEs were selected to exhibit in the show. In order to ascertain the feelings of the exhibitors, TravelBiz Monitor spoke to few of them. All the exhibitors in the Hidden Gems section praised this initiative, besides admitting that this step would open a new vista for South Africa’s tourism landscape. “It is a really good opportunity to showcase our products and get noticed by the travel industry. This platform offers us an opportunity to interact with international buyers and find out what their customers want, but can’t find in terms of experience. This allows us to develop products which are relevant to international tourists. This show also allows us to expand our business,” pointed out Justin Perumal, Founder, Paperjet Travel. Similarly, Zuko Njikija, Head- Sales and Marketing, Art Versatile, was also quite optimistic with this initiative. He said, “We are happy that government recognised us. By participating here, we are now able to get direct access to international and regional buyers, that too on a single platform.” According to Njikija, earlier the major challenge was to get direct market access which is being addressed after participating in this show.

Another interesting addition to this edition of INDABA is the LAP of Luxury Pavillion. This new initiative from The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) saw high-end brands, ranging from reputed names in luxury tourism to five-star boutique hotels, small and large hotels and resorts, lodges, SPAs etc.

‘Speed Marketing’ was another interesting session where diverse array of existing and new products were introduced in a concise and to the point manner to the buyers across the world. This is a very popular session in INDABA.

Durban city would continue to host the event for the next five years. The 2018 edition of INDABA will take place from May 8-10 at the same venue.

With such a strong line-up of initiatives, this edition of INDABA has seen 20,000 confirmed meetings, which is an increase of 20% compared to the 2016.
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