On Location: Rejoice! It’s Your Daily Wrap Of Africa’s Travel Indaba

On Location: Rejoice! It’s Your Daily Wrap Of Africa’s Travel Indaba
Edited by Travel Weekly


    South Africa this year commemorates 30 years of freedom and democracy. It is fitting then that Africa’s Travel Indaba (ATI) takes place this week in Durban at a venue named after one of South Africa’s foremost proponents of freedom, Albert Luthuli, as David Hovenden discovers.

    Patricia de Lille, Minister of Tourism, South Africa said ATI represented a celebration of an “Unlimited Africa”.

    “To local and international buyers – we have a fully sold-out floor space, this year’s show boasts an impressive array of exhibitors representing the continent’s diverse leisure tourism products. With over 1100 exhibitors from across Africa, the event serves as a showcase of our collective offering,” she said.

    Indaba was established more than 40 years ago as an annual business-to-business (B2B) platform to introduce and promote South African leisure tourism product owners to international tourism product buyers, by the then South African Tourism Corporation (SATOUR).

    In later years, in response to buyers and exhibitors’ feedback, Indaba was repositioned as a Pan-African Trade Show, with a deliberate focus on promoting the broader continental tourism market offering. It is now referred to as Africa’s Travel Indaba (ATI) and serves as a platform for the promotion and marketing of South Africa and regional products and services to global buyers of travel and tourism products and services.

    Economic Impact

    South African Tourism (SAT) last year commissioned BDO to undertake an economic impact assessment of the 2023 iteration of ITA to the South African economy.

    The show’s direct contribution to the South African economy is projected at R408.6 (AU$34) million.

    An additional R776.4 (AU$64) million is projected to be generated through indirect and induced impacts, resulting in a total contribution to the South African economy of R1.2 billion (AU$99 million).

    “Indeed, tourism is a significant contributor to job creation and your presence at Indaba ensures that this continues. It is projected that last year’s Africa’s Travel Indaba resulted in the creation or preservation of around 2295 jobs,” Minister de Lille added.

    Africa’s Travel Indaba. (Supplied)

    First-time exhibitor countries

    With more than 1100 exhibitors from across Africa, the event serves as a showcase of the continent’s collective offering. The 26 countries exhibiting this year include Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zanzibar and Zimbabwe.

    A special welcome was made to Burkina Faso, Eritrea and Guinea as they were first time participants at ATI this year.

    Kade Camara, Director-General of the Tourism Board of Guinea expressed excitement at being part of the tourism showcase.

    “Africa’s Travel Indaba is the biggest travel event in Africa. In Guinea, tourism is a sector we are seeking to explore further. This is why we decided that we will participate in the show this year, to showcase Guinea to Africa and the world and to present the vast investment opportunities we possess at the moment.”

    The Guinea delegation said it was essential to highlight the efforts undertaken by the Guinean government in terms of sustainable development and environmental preservation. These initiatives aim to ensure that tourism contributes positively to the socio-economic development of the country while preserving its valuable natural and cultural heritage for future generations. The government is also committed to facilitating and ensuring safety of visitors, putting in place appropriate measures to ensure a safe and enjoyable tourist experience.

    “Guinea is the amalgamation of all the wonders that Africa has to offer. It is an extremely diverse country with a melting pot of cultures and landscapes, this is why we want Africa to come invest, we know that everyone will feel welcome,” said Camara.

    Another newcomer Burkina Faso is represented at Indaba 2024 by the Burkinabe National Tourism Office (ONTB).

    Emmanuel Bako of ONTB says their objective at ATI is for potential international buyers (tour operators) to discover Burkina Faso’s original tourist offers, which are rich and diversified, and to convince them to choose Burkina Faso as a destination.

    “In addition, we aim to prospect tour operators (or international buyers) interested in our offer in order to invite them to our tourism trade fair called Ouagadougou International Tourism and Hotel Fair (SITHO) 2024, which will be held from November 28 to December 1, 2024 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. It will also be an opportunity for them to meet the private actors of tourism in Burkina Faso through B2B.”

    Bako says Burkina Faso boasts a wide range of hotels and tourist restaurants that are well-equipped to meet the accommodation and dining needs of visitors.

    Owing to its strategic geographical location, Burkina Faso serves as a cultural crossroads where diverse cultures intermingle. This cultural richness is reflected in the country’s hosting of major international cultural and tourism events.

    “In short, the Burkinabe tourism industry is doing well,” said Bako.

    Time for Africa to be bold

    The Deputy Minister of Tourism, Fish Mahlalela, said it is up to the African continent to be bold about what it can offer the world.

    Mahlalela was the keynote speaker at the Business Opportunity Networking Day (BONDay), which set the scene for the ATI which officially starts today and runs until Thursday.

    “It is up to us as Africans to open the world’s eyes to what we have to offer as a continent and take charge of the narrative because only when we are proactive, will we control our destiny,” he said.

    ATI showcases a wide variety of Africa’s best tourism products, and attracts African exhibitors, international and local buyers and media from across the world.

    “There is no more opportune time to do that than at Africa’s Travel Indaba, which takes place during May, which significantly, is also Africa Month,” he said. “Today, we gather not merely as representatives of businesses, but as catalysts of change, and architects of a future defined by co-operation and collective success.”

    Mahlalela added that transformation is important, especially in the South African economy for tourism to thrive: “Transformation becomes a necessity in South Africa because there is inequality and poverty.”

    Mahlalela added that although there are challenges, there is some headway being made as small businesses are being developed and tourists encouraged to visit the township businesses.

    South African Tourism CEO, Nombulelo Guliwe, said tourism is a catalyst for job creation and it is important for everyone in the ecosystem to be aware of the role they play.

    She was one of the panellists in a discussion titled Stimulating Local Economies Through The Tourism Value Chain.

    “Platforms like Africa’s Travel Indaba and other South African Tourism-owned trade shows as well as those we participate in are important for creating an enabling environment for people in the sector to have access to information,” said Guliwe.

    Indaba 2024. (Supplied)

    KwaZulu-Natal guarantees delegate safety

    Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Acting Chief Executive Officer (ACEO), Sibusiso Gumbi said: “We are looking forward to robust business engagements for the next three days with Tourism Buyers attending Africa’s Travel Indaba. Indaba continues to play an important role in KZN’s tourism growth and has a positive impact on our economy.

    “Hosting an event like ATI enables us to position KZN as a global brand and a must visit destination. Over the past few days, we have hosted a number of Buyers on Pre Tours so they can experience first-hand, what we have to offer. They got to sample our tourism experiences, stay in our hotels, experience our cuisine and our people firsthand. They get a realistic view of how easy it is to access our destination,” Gumbi continued.

    Tourism KZN has been working around the clock with eThekwini Metro and law enforcement agencies to ensure that delegates attending ATI 2024 will be as safe as possible while doing business and visiting Durban and KZN. ATI plays a significant role in providing employment. For its contribution, TKZN through its ambassador program is employing 40 unemployed students and graduates as tourism ambassadors during the trade show.

    Tourism ambassadors will be stationed at the ICC and the various hotels accommodating delegates and are there to assist them with information and directions; helping them navigate through ATI, directing them to our tourism experiences they can enjoy whilst in KZN.

    Once again TKZN will host 15 emerging tourism business entrepreneurs on its stand. These SMMEs are part of our Tourism Enterprise Development Program and being at ATI is invaluable exposure for their businesses. These SMMEs range from tour operators to accommodation owners, transport providers, travel agencies and tourism experience providers.

    “We sincerely hope that everyone attending over the three days has a wonderful and in our beautiful province and does excellent business, and will return bringing more people with them,” Gumbi concluded with excitement.

    Flights are soaring!

    In March 2024, the African aviation sector witnessed a notable 8.1 per cent year-on-year increase in international passenger demand, as reported by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

    This surge in demand signals robust growth in international passenger markets across the continent, reflecting a positive trend in air travel.

    According to the IATA Air Passenger Market Analysis report for March 2024, the capacity of African airlines also saw a significant 11 per cent year-on-year increase to accommodate the rising passenger demand.

    However, despite the increase in capacity, the load factor of African airlines experienced a slight decline, dropping to 70.3 per cent compared to March 2023. This indicates that, on average, flights were 70.3 per cent full during this period.

    Mpumi Mpofu, CEO of Airports Company South Africa, which manages 12 of South Africa’s largest airports, shared that “South African airline traffic has increased steadily post-pandemic with travellers now seeking out special destination tourism with more people opting to fly directing to destinations such as Kruger National Park and the Cape Winelands region.”

    Comparing the performance of African airlines to other regions globally, Asia- Pacific airlines recorded the highest increase in international passenger demand at 38.5 per cent, followed by Latin American airlines with a surge of 19.7 per cent.

    European carriers experienced an 11.6 per cent rise in demand, while Middle Eastern airlines saw a 10.8% increase, and North American carriers reported a growth of 14.5 per cent in demand.

    In terms of capacity and load factor, Asia-Pacific airlines led with a 37.4 per cent capacity growth and an 85.6 per cent load factor.

    European carriers witnessed an 11.4 per cent capacity increase and a 79.9 per cent load factor, while Middle Eastern airlines had a 13.9 per cent capacity growth and a 77.5 per cent load factor. North American airlines reported a 14.8 per cent capacity growth and an 84.7 per cent load factor, and Latin American airlines maintained an 84.3 per cent load factor.

    The global airline industry’s total Revenue Passenger-Kilometres (RPK) experienced a robust growth trajectory in March 2024, increasing by 13.8 per cent annually, primarily fuelled by strong international traffic. Passenger load factors (PLF) exceeded 2023 levels, reflecting the industry’s achievement of record levels of passenger traffic, surpassing the historical peak set in 2019.

    International traffic exhibited resilient momentum, with RPK growing by 18.9 per cent year-on-year across the entire industry. Particularly noteworthy was the rapid surge in traffic from the Asia-Pacific region, while other regions maintained consistent performance compared to the previous month.

    These insights underscore the dynamic nature of the global aviation industry and highlight the significant role played by African airlines in driving international air travel and connectivity across the continent.

    Inclusive African travel

    The KwaZulu-Natal Gay & Lesbian Tourism Association (KZNGALTA) commemorates a significant milestone in its history, celebrating 20 years of advocating for LGBTQ+ rights and inclusivity in South Africa’s tourism sector.

    As a pioneering force in promoting KZN as a welcoming and inclusive destination for LGBTQ+ traveller, KZNGALTA has developed strategic partnerships with local communities, businesses, and tourism stakeholders to create a supportive environment for LGBTQ+ individuals and businesses in KwaZulu-Natal.

    By participating in travel trade shows like Africa’s Travel Indaba, the association seeks to raise awareness about the value of LGBTQ+ tourism and its potential for driving economic growth.

    Jason Fiddler, founding chairperson of KZNGALTA, emphasised the importance of genuine inclusivity in tourism marketing efforts. “Slapping on a rainbow flag, or pinkwashing, is insufficient to have a proper impact for products and destinations seeking to attract LGBT leisure and business travellers,” Fiddler said.

    “We were founded in 2004 to help guide the Tourism KZN pink strategy, and over the past 20 years, as the oldest, and to the best of our knowledge, only African LGBTQ+ community tourism organisation, we find ourselves continually educating the travel trade and businesses of both the value and import of appropriately engaging with travellers in the community,” he said.

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