Tourism specialists from around the world are preparing to head for Durban for the most important high-profile tourism trade event on the continent, Africa’s Travel Indaba.
And experts who will be attending the Indaba will turn into tourists themselves as they book into Durban and the province’s hotels and B&Bs, eat out at local restaurants and help boost the local economy, just as their own customers do when they go on business and leisure trips.
More than 7000 delegates will be descending on Durban this week for the trade show, which starts on Thursday and runs until Saturday.
The delegates include over a thousand local, regional and international tourism buyers.
Close to 900 exhibitors will be telling delegates what they have to offer the tourism and travel trade, with 104 African exhibitors coming from 19 countries.
Some 700 journalists and media experts are expected to cover the event – one of the top three tourism trade shows in the world – which is expected to bring in R80million to the provincial GDP, with R40m being directly spent on accommodation, venue hire and transport.
It will create and sustain some 100000 jobs too.
The main event is being staged at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Durban International Convention Centre (ICC), which includes the neighbouring Durban Exhibition Centre, with various outside venues utilised by companies who host side events for their clients.
The event is Africa’s longest-running travel trade show and now attracts so many African countries that it was rebranded a few years ago. Thus this year’s theme, “Africa stories, your success”, is apt in that the event captures the strides and milestones of the tourism trade – big and small – who have built their businesses.
The event is unashamedly about doing deals and encouraging the all-important buyers to put destinations and “products” – accommodation, attractions, tours – into their future holiday packages and itineraries for their clients.
The gathering also offers industry players and stakeholders the chance to engage on the challenges and opportunities affecting the advancement of tourism on the continent.
A team comprising Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, Durban Tourism and the ICC has ensured that we put our best foot forward in playing host to the event, and it’s no wonder that there are constant calls for the region to be named the permanent home of Africa’s Travel Indaba.
It is events like the Indaba which have catapulted the tourism sector as a key growth point for the South African economy as well as the rest of the continent.
Statistics show that in 2017, direct travel and tourism employment in Africa rose to 9.3 million, the equivalent of one in 11 jobs. This represented an 11% increase on the previous year.
Tourism contributes an impressive 8.6% of the country’s GDP, with 44% of the tourism spend coming from international travellers (R128bn) and 56% coming from domestic travel (R163bn).
As for South Africa, the country welcomed 10.5 million international tourists last year, a 1.8% increase on 2017.
The World Travel and Tourism Council recently announced that South Africa had the largest tourism economy in Africa, having contributed 1.5 million jobs to the industry – 9.2% of South Africa’s employment.
The MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala, will use the show to update the global tourism trade and media on the province’s catalytic tourism projects, which are set to positively change the landscape of the destination.
As we gather for three days at the ICC to sell Africa to the world, we further urge each and every South African to #DoTourism and be tourism ambassadors of our country, as enhanced tourism growth is only possible through a collective effort between tourism trade, government and citizens working together in making our country a clean, safe, friendly and world-class destination.