INDABA, which is one of the biggest tourism marketing events on the African calendar and hosted by South African Tourism (SAT).
The event had the theme;Tourism 20 years into democracy: Plugging into Africa’s growth.
INDABA 2014 showcased a wide variety of South Africa’s best tourism products and attracted international visitors and media from across the world. This year, 24 African countries participated in the event.
Exhibitions included accommodation, tour operations, transport, camping, expeditions, game lodges, online travel and industry associations.
Attendance this year, however, fell short of last year’s. Figures available to SAT showed that there was a decline in patronage; from buyers, exhibitors, consumers to even the media. But SAT says it is not too worried about the dwindling figures. The organisation attributes the fall in patronage to the fact that the event spanned three days instead of the usual four days and the stringent measures that were used to choose buyers, for instance.
The CEO of SAT, Mr Thulani Nzima, giving an overview of the event at a press conference with the media, said exhibitor figures fell by 20 per cent. In 2013 there were 6,100 exhibitors as against the 4,904 who attended the event in 2014. He ascribed the drop to exhibitors participation in other shows in other parts of the country.
He said the World Travel Market Africa Show held in Cape Town at the beginning of the month had taken some shine out of the Durban INDABA and added that this year, the SAT placed a lot of emphasis on the choice of buyers for the event. He noted that emphasis was placed on quality buyers and not just a large number; something he believes may have also contributed to the low number of buyers who attended the INDABA.
“We wanted buyers who were ready to do business and sell South Africa and the continent,” he said.
According to the CEO an appraisal will be taken of activities that took place during INDABA 2014, to ensure smooth implementation at future shows and ensure that the event does not suffer unnecessarily.
But it was not all despondency at INDABA 2014; there were indicators of brisk networking activities on the trade floor with some buyers reporting excellent opportunities and business deals.
According to some exhibitors, the opportunity to exhibit at INDABA has created very good networking opportunities and allowed them to leverage new working relationships. They are therefore planning the expansion of their businesses.
The Chief Executive Officer of South African Tourism said he was proud of the African participation at the event and said he was hopeful of improved participation by countries on the continent in future shows.
“The continent is growing and now Africa is open for business as we are seeing greater co-ordination among African countries. But as we grow intra-Africa trade, travel needs to be easier and quicker”.
In another development, South African Tourism (SAT) has appointed a new manager for global communications. She is Ms Risuna Mayimele. Her appointment took effect from May 2, 2014.
Prior to joining SAT, Ms Mayimele had worked as a Marketing Manager for SABC3, where she was head of Marketing and Communication for the channel, which was voted the best TV channel in the Star Readers Choice Awards.