Tapping into continent’s unlimited potential
ZAMANDOSI CELE firstname.lastname@example.org
African News Agency
AFRICA’S unlimited potential came under the spotlight at Africa Travel Indaba 2023, which took place from May 4 to 11. With May being Africa Month, delegates from across the continent and world gathered at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban showcasing all that Africa has to offer as a tourism destination. The affair symbolised hope for recovery and a brighter future for African travel after the Covid-19 pandemic severely impacted travel and tourism over the past three years. More than 6 000 delegates, including 1000 international buyers and 1 000 exhibitors showcasing 350 products participated in the Indaba. Africa working together In the opening ceremony, Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille spoke passionately on the importance of African tourism highlighting the need “for collaboration and innovation to drive growth in the sector.” She said the competition was essential for destination marketing and tourism and that “it should be balanced with collaboration to avoid unhealthy practices and foster healthy competition based on quality and innovation”. She called for the harmonising of visa regimes and simplifying the application process to unlock Africa’s tourism potential and attract more visitors to the continent. According to De Lille, collaboration across the value chain was necessary to make it easier for visitors to move from one country to another on the continent. Inclusivity and diversity The minister also highlighted that the event is “very inclusive” of the whole of the continent. On the South African front, evidence of this can be seen in the participation of women and youth. De Lille, and Kwazulu-natal Premier Nomsa Dube-ncube presented a united front and rang the bell at the ceremony marking the start of Travel Indaba 2023. Newly appointed SA Tourism acting CEO, Nomasonto Ndlovu, officiated the opening ceremony at the convention centre, also led by Lindiwe Rakharebe. Tourism KZN employed youth from across the province as ATI Ambassadors, providing opportunities for job creation in a country rocked by youth unemployment. “ATI plays a significant role in providing employment, and for its contribution TKZN will employ 40 unemployed graduates as ambassadors to assist delegates for the duration of Africa’s Travel Indaba,” said TKZN Acting CEO Nhlanhla Khumalo. Supporting tourism businesses in the country The Department of Tourism said it supported 123 local small inbound tourism enterprises through its Market Access Support Programme (MASP) to showcase their products and services at the Indaba. According to the minister, the total value of support approved for the 123 enterprises amounts to R11.7 million and this investment enabled these small businesses to display their unique products and services, expand their networks, and foster partnerships that would drive the growth and sustainability of the tourism industry in South Africa. Speaking on the experience of showcasing at the Indaba, Paul de Waal founder and CEO of Wetu, a proudly South African B2B software technology platform that connects hotels and suppliers with agents around the world, said they started this platform to help Africa sell travel better. “There are a lot of shows but I always enjoy coming back to Indaba, it feels like our home. We started here, it was the only show and we used to come here. “I think it’s still an amazing show. We’ve been doing it for 15 years and I’ll probably do it for another 15,” said De Waal. Nyasha Nyukurwa, representing Coastal Beach Resort south of Durban in Umgababa, said the experience of showcasing at the event has been overwhelming. “We’ve had people not only from parts of South Africa but from other countries as well who are interested in coming to this establishment. So we are hoping that by the end of this whole trade show we will have more players coming on board to work with us,” said Nyukurwa. Durban as a bleisure destination As the host city of Africa Travel Indaba, Durban also had the opportunity to position itself as a business and leisure destination. According to ethekwini mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda, since the full return to business activity after the Covid-19 pandemic, the municipality has identified meetings, conferences, workshops and business travel as its main area of focus to attract visitors. The mayor told the minister that guided by the Durban Tourism visitor marketing strategy, the municipality has been working tirelessly to grow this niche market by partnering with major convention centres. As part of the fun side of the indaba, corporate attorney and #Runningwithtumisole founder, Tumi Sole, hosted a 5km Travel Indaba fun run on Durban’s Golden Mile Promenade. De Lille and Ndlovu participated in the run. Speaking at the early morning event, the minister said she enjoyed the exercise. “Durban has got the best weather. I really, really enjoyed the good exercise. And I wish I just lived here to do it more regularly,’ said De Lille.