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Indaba, South Africa’s premiere tourism trade show, opens in Durban

Africa is the focus of Indaba 2014, which opened in Durban.
Africa is the focus of Indaba 2014, which opened in Durban.
Wanda Hennig

More than 13 000 delegates, international buyers and media from the travel and tourism-related industries across the globe are expected in Durban for the May 10-12 for Indaba 2014, Africa’s Top Travel Show.

Durban Tourism started welcoming delegates at King Shaka International Airport from Thursday May 9 — as the votes were being counted from the 2014 South African elections, the 20th anniversary of South Africa's first democratic elections.

Previously held over four days, Indaba 2014 was planned as a three day event.

Organizers said they expected the more compact Indaba to be better for business — and they hoped it would give visitors to the city more time to experience Durban and accessible parts of KwaZulu-Natal.

Indaba, which is owned by South African Tourism, showcases a wide variety of southern Africa’s best tourism products.

This is the 26th years that Durban has hosted Africa’s premiere international tourism event, billed and one of the top three events of its kind on the global calendar.

“When one adds to this the value of the spend on local infrastructure spent by exhibitors at the show, as well as the positive value of the extensive media coverage, the net effect of the local economy and future tourism is indeed significant,” said Phillip Sithole, head of Durban Tourism.

It has also won the award for Africa’s best travel and tourism show for two years in a row. The award is presented by the Association of World Travel Awards.

This year Indaba has expanded to showcase some of Africa’s best travel brands.

Countries such as Angola, Benin, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Reunion, Rwanda, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe have joined the South African product owners and travel operators.

Many are exhibiting for the first time in more than 30 years of Indaba’s existence.

Tourism arrivals in Africa are growing by 7 percent year-on-year, making Africa one of tourism’s most exciting opportunities.

Organised by South African Tourism in partnership with Tourism KZN (TKZN) and Durban Tourism, Indaba is being staged, as it traditionally, is at Durban’s Albert Luthuli Convention Centre (ICC).

New efforts are being taken to transform Indaba into a contemporary Pan African trade show and rebrand it as the face of Africa.

This year’s theme of “Plug into Africa’s Growth” defines the overall objective of providing buyers with a variety of the best African products and offerings under one roof, Ndabo Khoza, TKZN’s chief executive explained.

“African tourism is growing and we are proud to have a number of exhibitors from outside SADC attending for the first time, including Nigeria, Egypt, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Ghana, Sudan, Ethiopia and Tunisia,” he said.

Thulani Nzima, chief executive officer at South African Tourism, said, “It has never been more important to plug into Africa’s tourist trade. According to the latest UN World Tourism Organisation barometer, Africa attracted 3 million more arrivals, reaching a new record of 56 million last year.

“Indaba 2014 is the biggest and best platform for business in African tourism.”

New initiatives being introduced will also facilitate greater and more valuable interaction between exhibitors and buyers, while key speakers will also share industry trends and ideas.

Following Indaba 2013, South African Tourism undertook a trade road show visiting a number of cities throughout the country to explain the three-to-five year growth strategy as well as to hear back from the trade on how they could further improve Indaba.

Road shows were also undertaken in France, Germany, the UK and India. A new office has opened in Nigeria and for the first time South African exhibitors were taken to the Abav travel trade show in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Marketing expenditure has also been increased in emerging markets such as China, Brazil and India, which according to the latest barometer led outbound tourism growth in 2013.

CNN business anchor, Richard Quest, will be moderating the Media Face-off event on Sunday.

This will be staged at the Woza eNanda (Inanda) Heritage Route as part of celebrating 20 years of freedom.

TKZN has also partnered with Tourvest, one of the biggest in-bound tour operators in South Africa, to host a dinner awards event on Monday night when the “Best KZN Supporter Award” will be presented.

The city will also host the popular Saturday night’s opening party, welcoming 3 000 guests to New Beach.