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Friday, 31 May, 2019, 11 : 25 AM [IST]

Indaba 2019 - Africa Telling its Stories

Africa Travel Indaba 2019 was an extravaganza of art and dance forms of South Africa depicting the contributions of tourism in the past 25 years. This edition earned huge marketability as 6,500 delegates from across the globe engaged with the travel and tourism industry of South Africa. Besides this, the event is successful in introducing plethora of new products to the buyers which will subsequently help to get more number of tourists in the months to come, reports Samruddhi Chitnis.

Africa Travel Indaba 2019 that marked the 25th anniversary of Freedom of South Africa, kicked off on May 2 at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli ICC, Durban under the banner ‘Africa Telling its Stories’. One of the largest marketing tourism events of Africa witnessed visitors and buyers from countries across the globe, and showcased African art and culture in varied forms. The sculptures, banners and graffiti’s displayed depicted the bright colours similar to that of the South African flag. Performers decked up in African attires welcomed the guests with the conventional dance forms of South Africa.

Cyril Ramaphosa, President, South Africa addressing the crowd at ‘Africa Travel Indaba 2019’

Africa Travel Indaba witnessed the participation of 1,000 exhibitors who were categorised as per their type of products. Exhibitors in the DEC (Durban Exhibition Centre) included provincial authorities, provincial products and African countries and that at the ICC (International Convention Centre), exhibitor categories included accommodation, tour operators, game lodges, transport, online travel, luxury products, hidden gems, media publications and industry associations. Outdoor exhibitors included transport, camping and safari companies. The two exhibition units were connected by a foyer which included cafeterias and shopping markets. The sustainable market set-up which gained popularity at Indaba exhibited handmade bags, jewellery, footwear’s and other artefacts of cultural significance.

Around 6,500 delegates, including 1,500 buyers visited Indaba 2019. “The theme for 2019 was ‘Africa’s Stories, Your Success’ re-emphasised Around 6,500 delegates, including 1,500 buyers visited Indaba 2019. “The theme for 2019 was ‘Africa’s Stories, Your Success’ re-emphasised the importance of telling us our own stories and showcasing our successes,” said Derek Hanekom, Minister of Tourism, South Africa Tourism (SAT).

“Too often the real stories of Africa are simply not told and simply not heard,” said Hanekom while he declared ‘Indaba 2019’ open. He said, “The UNWTO predicted that 1.8 billion people will be travelling globally by 2030. The continent would welcome 126-million international arrivals by 2030 which sets a target for Africa of 5% growth per year to achieve this milestone.”

2019Derek Hanekom, Minister of Tourism, South Africa declares ‘Africa Travel Indaba 2019’ open

According to the records, in 2018, Africa reached 67million i.e. growth of 7% in 2017 in number of international tourists arrivals which is 5% of global international tourist arrivals. As per Hanekom, South Africa has grown by 8% for three years in a row and the tourism sector contributed 8.5% to African GDP, supporting more than 24 million jobs in Africa.

Sihle Zikalala, MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, KwaZulu Natal (KZN), said, “Africa Travel Indaba is one of the most prestigious and award-wining events that brings together the local and international stakeholders in the tourism sector. We strongly believe the growth and sustainability depend largely on forging strategic partnership for mutual benefit. Indaba 2019 promotes strategic operations, collaborations, sharing of experiences and development of public and private partnerships that will maximise the growth of tourism industry.”

Tourism in South Africa has seen massive growth in the past 25 years. “The key highlight at the Africa Travel Indaba 2019 is unveiling of the mural that implies the role that art plays in the tourism industry,” Zikalala added.

Africa’s Travel Indaba brought together a showcase of Southern African tourism products and services for the international travel trade. One of exhibitor at Indaba 2019, Lumka Dlomo, Destination Marketing Manager, Johannesburg Tourism, said, “We have been a participant of Indaba for the past 8 years with the aim to attract more visitors to Johannesburg. We also use this platform to promote our campaigns.”

In 2019, Johannesburg is emphasising on ‘#Welcome2Jozi’ to encourage partners and stakeholders. “Whether its tourism, school, hospitals we are making an effort to welcome our visitors. These visitors encourage us to promote South Africa as a destination. Last year, we also launched our app that will help one navigate destination and get to book accommodation, book table at a restaurant and understand what our destination has to offer,” she said.

While talking about the Indian market, Dlomo said that Johannesburg is positive about the incentive groups visiting Johannesburg from India because of the pharmaceuticals.

Amagene Koeberg, Tourism Coordinator, Garden Route & Klein Karoo (GRDM), exclaimed Indaba as a platform not just for product-based marketing, but also for regional promotions while exhibiting at the event.

Focusing on India, she said, “India is a very big market for us. Oudtshoorn Tourism office and George Tourism office have strong relations with South African Tourism (SAT) India, Alpha and other tourism organisations in India.”

The buyer profile consisted of inbound tour operators, foreign travel agents, airlines, DMC’s, online booking companies, transport companies. A total of 9 Indian buyers from states like Maharashtra, Haryana, West Bengal etc., participated in Indaba this year.

While talking to TravelBiz Monitor, Amol A. Damle, Damle Safaris from Pune, said, “Indaba 2019 has given vast opportunities to get acknowledged with new African products as well as get update on existing products which are many times skipped when sent through emails. Personal interaction was positive and the speed marketing was helpful – more time for this session with more vendors would be helpful.”

Amit Mittal, Deputy Manager - Holiday Supply, Gurugram said Indaba was a good and fruitful experience. “We got a chance to have insight of destination and products, and were introduced to many new products, potential of destinations and challenges.”

Speaking on the challenges that South Africa faced overtime, Sthembiso Dlamini, Acting CEO & Head of global operations, SAT, said, “In 2017 we had set ourselves a goal ‘5’*5’ which meant 5 million travellers in the next 5 years. To strategically chalk out the unique selling points of South Africa a new marketing investment framework was developed. This strategy helped us reach new markets enabling South Africa to expand its space load. India came up as one of the important markets following the South East and Middle East.”

On the last day of Indaba 2019, Cyril Ramaphosa, President, South Africa made a surprise visit. While addressing the crowd at Indaba, he said, “African countries are taking the lead in sustainable tourism and eco-tourism. South Africa needs to expand tourism in our countries, to contribute to economic growth, to increase our foreign earnings, to bring more people into the mainstream of our economies, and to boost related industries. Tourism is an industry that tends to showcase a country’s identity and offering to the world. It has an extensive value chain, stimulating economic activity in manufacturing, in the services sector and in the creative and cultural industries. Most importantly, tourism holds great promise for the development of small businesses in our countries.”

Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first democratically-elected President opened the first Indaba in a free South Africa, had said, “It is in tourism that nature and humanity meet most equitably and profitably. It also provides the resources for the conservation of our natural heritage. Furthermore, tourism is making an important and valuable contribution to the South African economy. Twenty-four years on, and those words still echo throughout our sector,” said Hanekom while concluding Indaba 2019.
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