Durban – More than 6 000 delegates, including international buyers and exhibitors attended Tuesday’s opening of the Africas Travel Indaba 2023.
Exhibitors from 21 African countries showcased their products at the Indaba.
The SA Department of Tourism sponsored 123 small businesses at R11.7 million to feature at the trade show as part of transformation efforts.
All in all there were 1 000 exhibitors showcasing 350 products. As many as 1 000 international buyers attended the Indaba.
In her opening address SA Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille spoke passionately on the importance of the industry, highlighting the need for collaboration and innovation to drive growth in the sector.
Minister De Lille said competition was essential for destination marketing and tourism.
However, she said: it should be balanced with collaboration to avoid unhealthy practices and foster healthy competition based on quality and innovation.
She noted that harmonising visa regimes and simplifying the application process is vital for unlocking Africas tourism potential.
Minister De Lille said collaboration across the value chain was necessary to make it easier for visitors to move from one country to another, within the continent.
South Africa, she added, was “leading the way with visa waivers for several African countries and the rollout of an e-visa system to countries like Kenya, Nigeria, and Egypt.
She promised that the goal is to expand the e-visa system to 20 more countries, making Africa a more attractive destination for Africans and international travellers.
Minister De Lille said for South Africa there has been, encouraging growth in our tourist arrival numbers between January and December 2022, where it reached nearly 5.8 million with over 4 million of those arrivals from African countries.
This represents an overall inbound increase of 152.6% for South Africa compared to January to December 2021.
She bemoaned the dearth of celebrating together as Africans, calling for a special event to bridge the chasm of geography, language and culture amongst Africans.
We must stop bickering, Minister De Lille said.
Our people across the continent of Africa are our greatest asset. As Africans, we must do more to break down the stereotypes by promoting cultural exchanges, celebrating excellence and diversity through song and dance and sharing various cuisines that make Africa the magnet of international tourists.
Minister De Lille said the future looks bright.
We have, collectively, weathered the Covid-19 hurricane and it should only propel us to exceed our targets, she said.
Minister De Lille said Africas Travel Indaba offers an opportunity to, honour the African peoples incredible ingenuity, fortitude, and magnificence.
Minister De Lille also encouraged local trade partners to participate in Shot Left Travel Week by providing discounted travel rates to locals, to help boost domestic tourism efforts.
Mayor of Durban Councillor Mxolisi Kaunda told his attentive audience that Durban was honoured to host the 2023 Africas Travel Indaba, a premier trade show in Africa.
Mayor Kaunda said eThekwini Municipality has identified meetings, conferences, workshops, exhibitions, and business travel as its area of focus for post-COVID-19 recovery.
He said recent statistics: show that the sector [in Durban] will recover to 95% of the 2019 job levels.
In addressing safety and security concerns, Mayor Kaunda announced that Durban had implemented tough security measures to increase safety, including recruiting 400 Metro Police Officers annually and partnering with community crime-fighting structures and business forums.
Major investment projects, such as the R600m Platinum Walk at Oceans Mall and the R8 billion Westown development, are expected to boost local tourism, he said.
Mayor Kaunda appealed for cooperation and partnership with the private sector.
The city is working closely with product owners to offer affordable prices to boost tourism,” said Mayor Kaunda.
“Major international events, such as the World Table Tennis Championship Finals and the Hollywoodbets Durban July Experience, are expected to attract thousands of visitors and boost the sectors recovery.
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube underscored the importance of tourism in driving the provinces economic recovery, creating job opportunities, and narrowing the gap between the rich and poor.
She welcomed all visitors to KwaZulu-Natal and wished them a pleasant stay in the province.
There was ululation when Premier Dube-Ncube announced that Durban would soon become the permanent home of Africas Travel Indaba 40 years after its launch.
Siboniso Duma, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs, said: Africas Travel Indaba presents a unique opportunity to shape the future of Africa through the connections made over the next three days.
He added: This event plays a vital role in expanding tourism across the continent while putting South Africa and the KwaZulu-Natal province on the map of Africa and the world.
*This article is published courtesy of Minsight Content