Africa's Travel Indaba is South Africa's long standing trade show that encourages Africans to support and value the continent and travel product offering - with the pressing question on everybody's mind being can this year's Travel Indaba shake the setbacks that have popped up unexpectedly.
READ: New dates set for Africa's Travel Indaba and what you should know
A sudden date change was the first issue the event faced this year, when President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement that the elections would be held on 8 May, in his 2019 State of the Nation speech. Indaba was scheduled to take place between 6 - 9 May, but will now take place earlier between 2 - 4 May.
The cautionary suspension of South African Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona has the travel industry shocked, especially when considering the crucial phase our country's destination marketer is in, with raised targets, key projects on the go to grow both domestic and international tourism as well as the upcoming trade show season - with World Travel Market Africa taking place between 9 and 11 April at the CTICC.
However, the National Department of Tourism stated it supports the process of the cautionary suspension based on the need to conduct a fair investigation. Sthembiso Dlamini has been appointed as the acting CEO so that the work of the organisation continues smoothly, according to the department - ensuring an "exceptional" Africa’s Travel Indaba is delivered. The board, as such, has refused to comment further.
With the Indaba 2019 launch event held in Durban on Wednesday, 03 April, it ironically encapsulated the need to shift the focus from the negative to the positive.
Keynote speaker of the day, Chief Convention Bureau Officer of South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB), Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, shared the theme for this year's event, Africa’s stories, your success, saying Africans must own their narrative so that they can embark on the journey of changing the continent’s story.
Kotze-Nhlapo added that in today's digital age it was possible to take hold of how the world sees Africa, highlighting the power of social media to connect and " set the story straight". She also shared key numbers for the upcoming event, with 1 110 local, regional and international buyers confirmed, and some 890 exhibitors, as well as 104 exhibitors from 19 African countries already confirmed.
South African storyteller Victor Kgomoeswana, one of the guest speakers, was clear about African countries' needing to look within and across the continent to promote and create Africa's success story.
“The greatest story for us to tell is our own; the most effective way to tell it is the African way - because the centre of the universe, literally and figuratively, is in Africa,” he says.
Africa needs to tell its own story
Kgomoeswana highlighted one of Africa's legends, Hugh Masekela as the epitome of being authentically African and successful in telling his own true story.
Masekela would have celebrated his 80th birthday today, 04 April. Kgomoeswana told the story of how Masekela had copied the musical talent of Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie.
When Masekela eventually went to the States, he had been trained by the best and had opportunities to play alongside his idols Davis and Gillispie.
But it was Gillespie who had given him the best advice, even if it was taken as an "initial insult".
Kgomoeswana shared how Masekela was told, "If you take some of that African stuff and mix it up a little bit, people might take you more seriously. Masekela initially felt insulted but it was in fact the very thing that made him into the musical genius that we know today. His story was a lot more important and believable than a second-rate or rehashed cover version of what he was playing before."
Indaba will also welcome the Green Stand Awards this year - a successful inclusion at Meetings Africa in recent years. It recognises exhibitors who go that extra “green” mile to build and design stands that are environmentally and socially sustainable. Click here to register for Africa's Travel Indaba 2019
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