DELEGATES TOUCHDOWN ON AFRICAN SOIL
By: Ayanda Kasule
As the largest tourism marketing event, the Tourism Indaba was underway at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Center (ICC) in Durban.
Just over 13000 delegates from Europe, Asia, Australasia, Africa and the Middle East were expected to attend the four day trade event which kicked off on Friday and was set to end on Tuesday.
The Tourism Indaba is mainly a platform for travel tourism and related industries to showcase newly innovative products, trends and discuss the future of the tourism industry.
This year’s theme was “shaping our future together” and was complemented by strong messages of heritage and culture throughout the event.
Thulani Nzima, South African Tourism Chief Executive Officer said, “Heritage and culture are key pull factors for today’s traveler who doesn’t just want to see a destination but wants to listen, taste, hear, touch and authentic experience it too. They don’t just want look at the natural beauty but interact.”
The tourism sector is a rapidly growing economy and is creating jobs as the influx of tourists has risen to10.2% which is more than the global average of 4% between the periods of 2011 to 2012.
“International arrival statistics for 2012 revealed nine million tourist, 13 million international arrivals, spending is up from Europe, Asia, USA when they come here and Africa marginal down,” said National Minister for Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, during the media briefing at the Heritage and Culture Pavilion. “This is exceptional good news we continue to outperform our competitors. People are very optimistic and it’s clear that people feel there are sharing in the benefits.”
Issues pertaining to domestic tourism were tabled as it plays a crucial role in increasing the country’s gross domestic product.
“Three quarters of all tourists in South Africa are South Africans, with domestic tourist having contributed R101billion to our economy in 2011,” said van Schalkywk.
Tourism Indaba is set to take its expansion to new heights next year as South African Tourism is expected to increase “African participation” and beyond.