Tourism: South Africa mulls virtual option for Indaba 2021, to announce date soon

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South Africa is considering holding its 2021 Indaba travel trade show as a virtual event due to the second wave of the pandemic in the country which necessitated its cancellation last year when the disease broke out.

According to tourismupdate.co.za, Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, is expected to make an announcement soon on whether Africa’s biggest travel trade show, Indaba 2021, will go ahead this year. And, if so, the format that it will be held in.

CEO of South African Tourism, Sisa Ntshona, told Tourism Update in an exclusive interview today that the tourism marketing body was in the process of assessing the viability of the trade show.

“As we wait for the vaccination roll-out to create herd immunity globally, and people feel comfortable travelling for 10 hours in a plane to a long-haul destination, the outlook for international travel is still relatively uncertain,” he said.

The questions SA Tourism is subsequently asking include – will international buyers be ready to look at what Africa is selling by May this year? And if not, is it appropriate to spend very limited funds on hosting a trade show with no buyers?

Ntshona said, as part of its assessment, SA Tourism was looking at how organisers had adapted the format of other trade shows, such as ITB Berlin 2021 and World Travel Market London in November 2020.

ITB Berlin is set to go ahead from March 9 to 12 as an entirely virtual event and, similar to the WTM London format, will include numerous live-streamed high-level panel discussions and lectures as well as digital networking opportunities, an intelligent matchmaking event and a virtual exhibition area.

SA Tourism is considering similar formats for Indaba 2021. “We do feel that Africa’s travel trade needs to have its moment and we’re therefore debating the best way forward,” said Ntshona.
He said when international tourism did bounce back, South Africa – and the rest of the continent – had to be ready to welcome tourists back.

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