Cape Town - Indaba 2017 will see some 7 000 delegates from around the world meeting at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban from 16 to 18 May 2017.
According to South African Tourism chief executive Sisa Ntshona, this highly anticipated event is said to grow the African tourism economy through constructive conversations, dynamic partnerships and a strong focus on doing business.
90 SMMEs boosted
According to Neil Nagooroo, chairperson of the Exhibition and Event Association of Southern Africa (EXSA), this year's INDABA will focus especially on promoting SA's upcoming Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs) and offering them a platform to interact with international authorities.
Nagooroo tells Traveller24 that a total of 90 SMMEs have been selected to represent SA at INDABA, following a rigorous selection process in which the 10 best enterprises from each of SA's nine provinces were selected, trained and prepared for INDABA with the assistance of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA).
SA Tourism's Ntshona agrees that this new Hidden Gems programme, as it is called, will be a major enabler for "emerging and existing enterprises that are at least 50% black-owned".
This year, the INDABA organisers will also be launching an event app, in line with international best practice, which all attendees will be able to use during this year's event. The app will include maps, programmes as well as social media links.
Numbers to the event are said to be on the decline, but this, Nagooroo says, is in line with the current economic environment in SA.
He tells Traveller24 that there is the "expectancy that there'll be a small decline in exhibitors," as the budgets allocated to the event this year needed to stay the same from last year.
But, as two weeks remain before the event's kick-off, Nagooroo says he remains hopeful that more and more businesses and enterprises will register to be seen at this massive African travel event.
He says there are about 1 200 buyers expected at INDABA 2016, which is about 300 less than last year's total of 1 500 buyers. Nagooroo says, however, that he is certain the predictions will be exceeded.
'All signs point to Africa being the next tourism frontier'
According to Ntshona, INDABA had built up a reputation for excellence as the world’s biggest showcase of the African tourism industry’s quality and diverse offerings within its more than 35 years of existence.
In addition to the contingent of South African exhibitors who will be attending this year, countries such as Angola, Botswana, the DRC, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Reunion, the Seychelles, Senegal, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe will be displaying their tourism-related products and services.
Ntshona says tourism has the potential to be the new “gold” that could steer African economies to new heights and boost the continent’s share of global tourism significantly beyond its current 5% level.
“All signs point to Africa being the next tourism frontier,” says Ntshona. “The continent as a whole reported an 8% surge in international arrivals in 2016, with Sub-Saharan Africa increasing by 11% and South Africa by a massive 13%. Last year, we broke records to reach 10 million international tourists coming to South Africa.
“These figures far exceed the global increase in international arrivals of 3.9% overall. So Africa is definitely the happening place to be, with vast untapped tourism potential that could buoy the greater African economy and contribute its prosperity.”
INDABA 2018 open to any province in SA
Looking to the future of INDABA, South African Tourism has started with the process of assigning the event to any of SA's nine provinces.
On Wednesday, 22 March, the initial call was issued, with interested parties having until the end of March to express their interest, along with proof that they are able and capable of hosting an event of INDABA's magnitude.
Following this Expression of Interest period, the full tender document will be sent out to the interests parties, who will then have 21 days available to submit a proper tender consisting of a full pitch.
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