It’s that time of year again: every May heralds South African Tourism’s annual trade show extravaganza INDABA, in sunny Durban.
The Australian trade attendees have been announced, with representatives from Adventure Destinations, Bench, Discover Africa, Eclipse, Inca Tours, Out and About, Prestige Safaris, Travel Africa and This is Africa.
7000 delegates will attend the pan-African trade show from the 16th to 18th of May.
Having run for 35 years, tourism is still touted as an unreached potential in Africa and INDABA seeks to boost the continent’s share of global tourism significantly beyond its current 5% level.
“All signs point to Africa being the next tourism frontier. The continent as a whole reported an eight per cent surge in international arrivals in 2016, with Sub-Saharan Africa increasing by 11 per cent and South Africa by a massive 13 per cent.
“Last year, we broke records to reach 10 million international tourists coming to South Africa,” South African Tourism chief executive Sisa Ntshona said.
Ntshona revealed that this year’s INDABA would have a special focus on accelerating small businesses in the tourism sector, one of which was an initiative to train and mentor SMEs and give them preferential access to influential industry players.
“For me, one of INDABA’s highlights is our new Hidden Gems programme, which will help boost tourism by enabling smaller players. We are hosting 90 small tourism businesses at the show – emerging and existing enterprises that are at least 50% black-owned,” Ntshona said.
“They are drawn from each of South Africa’s nine provinces and we call them our Hidden Gems, because they are tucked-away treasures that only a select few know about.”
Thanks to a partnership between South African Tourism, the National Department of Tourism and the Southern African Tourism Services Association, these entrepreneurs will be given valuable exposure at INDABA as well as the opportunity to “pitch” their offerings to travel buyers during speed marketing sessions.
Ntshona also unveiled a series of topical “Conversations” – panel discussions with industry thought leaders aimed at constructively exploring topical issues related to developing tourism in Africa – that would take place at INDABA 2017.
Local and international game changers, technology “disruptors”, experts and captains of industry will exchange ideas on how to market tourism offerings to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) community; how the private and public sectors can join hands to drive inclusive growth; and how Africa’s pioneering arts sector can further enhance the continent’s appeal as a tourist destination. Ntshona noted that these talks promised to be both inspiring and informative.
This year’s INDABA will also have a more streamlined events programme, designed to improve the experience of exhibitors, buyers, visitors and media alike. Innovations include an enhanced online diary system to provide more “match-making” options between delegates who want to meet with a view to doing business, and a new INDABA app that will provided updated information and news at the show.
INDABA 2017 will also sport a new floor layout for ease of navigation – as well as, for the first time, a luxury pavilion showcasing five-star tourism offering.