Africa’s Travel Indaba kicks off in Durban

All roads lead to Durban this week, as the 2023 edition of Africa’s Travel Indaba (ATI) — the continent’s premier tourism trade show — gets underway at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.

Africa’s Travel Indaba 2023, which takes place from Monday to Thursday, aims to reach pre-COVID-19 participation levels.

With over 20 African countries participating, showcasing over 350 tourism products, this year’s event promises to be a vibrant and diverse representation of Africa’s tourism industry, offering a vast array of unique and exciting offerings that the continent has, said South African Tourism on Monday.

The 2023 edition of Africa’s Travel Indaba brings together stakeholders from across the tourism industry ecosystem, from no less than 1 000 buyers, just under 1 000 exhibitors, destination marketing bodies, hotel groups, airlines, tour operators and 10 African tourism boards.

There are already 18 625 confirmed meetings on the online diary system.

“Africa’s Travel Indaba aims to facilitate networking and business opportunities within the African tourism industry, all with the shared goal of aiding the much-needed recovery of our sector.

“With a focus on collaboration, the event serves as a crucial platform for industry professionals to come together, share insights and forge partnerships that will drive growth,” said SA Tourism.

Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille is expected to officially open the trade show, which will set the tone for the three-day event and will highlight the importance of the tourism sector for the continent’s economy.

The Minister said: “We are determined to drive the recovery of the tourism industry and to ensure that we continue to contribute to creating jobs and grow the continent’s economy. It is vital that we work together to promote Africa as a preferred tourist destination for both leisure tourism and business events.

“The public and private sectors must unite to showcase the continent’s diverse offerings and leverage technology, spur innovation, and create memorable experiences for visitors.”

The trade show provides an opportunity for face-to-face interactions, networking, sharing ideas and forging partnerships that will enhance the industry’s recovery, particularly after the COVID-19 lockdowns and disruptions to the greater global tourism industry.

The Minister has announced that the Department of Tourism is supporting 123 local small inbound tourism enterprises through its Market Access Support Programme (MASP) to showcase their products and services at the Hidden Gems pavilion during the Indaba.

The programme aims to address the cost barriers associated with exhibition and roadshow participation for small businesses by offering partial financial support to qualifying enterprises to participate at selected international and local tourism trade shows.

This initiative, De Lille explained, is based on the rationale that improved market access drives higher revenue and export earnings and leads to increased tourists numbers, enterprise growth and expansion and greater job creation.

Of the 123 approved and contracted enterprises participating in the 2023 ATI MASP, the vast majority (114) are black-owned, while more than half (71) are woman-owned.

The group also includes 16 enterprises owned by young people. The total value of support approved for the 123 enterprises amounts to R11.7 million.

The support, she said, will enable these small businesses to display their unique products and services, expand their networks, and foster partnerships that will drive the growth and sustainability of the tourism industry in South Africa.

In addition, about 50 more SMMEs will be supported by the various provincial tourism authorities, expanding market access opportunities for more products to showcase at this year’s trade show.

“Africa’s Travel Indaba is a welcome boost for KwaZulu-Natal. It is an appropriate opportunity for our country and province to re-enter the world stage and through tourism, to rekindle and enhance the prospects of our economic growth and employment creation,” said KwaZulu-Natal Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube.

Dube-Ncube said tourism is a key pillar in the Provincial Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan and prior to COVID-19, it contributed at least 9.5% to the GDP of the province.

“Efforts to reignite the tourism sector include intensive marketing of KwaZulu-Natal, providing support for rural and township tourism organisations and improving infrastructure and connectivity. We are ready to welcome the world to the Zulu Kingdom and let our story shine through our rich history, meandering mountains, authentic Zulu culture, our renowned World Heritage sites and vibrant city nightlife,” Dube-Ncube said.

Siboniso Duma, KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, said: “As the province of KwaZulu-Natal, we are ready to show the world that the province is still their most loved destination and will showcase many of the great products and developments that have come into the market since we last met.”

Source: South African Government News Agency