Focus is on “hidden gems” to promote small business sector
Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom highlighted continental tourism data rather than South African data. There were exhibitors from 23 African countries [PREUSS]
Africa’s Travel Indaba in Durban saw greater participation than last year as Africa looks to cash in on the growing interest in the BRICS member countries of a trip to see the unspoiled and largely untapped African scenery, in particular the “hidden gems” that are off the beaten track.
Of the more than 1,100 exhibitors, 200 were first-time exhibitors with Tourism South Africa and the national tourism department aiming to promote the small business sector, so that the tourism industry becomes more inclusive and its benefits are spread more evenly throughout the continent.
The tourism expo has been rebranded from the Tourism Indaba to a show that is a more African affair. In his opening address, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom highlighted continental tourism data rather than South African data. There were exhibitors from 23 African countries. There was a total of 1,747 registered buyers, an increase of 14 per cent from last year.
“A record 62 million people visited Africa in 2017, representing nothing less than 8 per cent year-on-year growth. And to varying degrees, all countries on the continent have the potential for exponential growth, given that arrivals to our vast continent represent only five percent of global tourists,” Hanekom said.
He noted that travel and tourism is the fastest growing sector in the world, outperforming other sectors of the global economy.
The World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC’s) annual Economic Impact Research showed that Travel and Tourism was responsible for the creation of 7 million new jobs worldwide.
“Travel & Tourism creates jobs, drives economic growth and helps build better societies. Our research shows that our sector was responsible for the creation of one in five of all jobs globally. In the last few years, Governments around the world are realizing the extraordinary benefits of tourism and I congratulate them for taking steps to maximize the potential of our sector,” Gloria Guevara, WTTC President and CEO said.
In 2017, Travel & Tourism’s direct, indirect and induced impact accounted for 10.4 per cent or $8.3 trillion of global GDP and 313 million jobs or one in ten jobs globally.
The long-term outlook to 2028 remains unchanged, with average growth of 3.8 per cent per year over the next decade as the sector is expected to contribute around 25 per cent of global net job creation over the next decade.
“And in Africa examples abound of diverse, world class, accredited attractions supported by transport, services and communications infrastructure that competes with the best on offer elsewhere in the world,” Hanekom said.
It is to build on this infrastructure that Tourism Ministers from Angola, the Kingdom of eSwatini formerly known as Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe were joined by a panel of tourism experts to explore potential solutions to the challenges of regional integration.
“This will require that we find ways to work together to create an enabling environment that will facilitate synergy in the development of regional tourism products, and ensure the growth and sustainability of the African tourism market,” Hanekom concluded.
To promote tourism even further, British Airways said that they will be flying direct to Durban from London using a Boeing Dreamliner three times a week from October this year.
Meanwhile, global tourism booking facilitator Amadeus will invest more than one million euros per year for the next five years to upskill South African tourism operators via an online education platform as well as ensuring that a Norwegian tourist can book a room in the rural areas of South Africa with ease.
Amadeus Vice President Svend Leirvaag said there were four pillars to the new tourism initiative, which was a collaborative effort between Amadeus, the private sector and the national department of tourism.
“The four pillars are tourism information, a tourism data hub, a booking system for small and medium enterprises and an online training academy,” Leirvaag said.
A survey by Travelzoo this year showed a record high (more than 60 per cent) number of Chinese respondents who plan to travel in-depth in 2018 want to visit Africa this year.
“In-depth travels” is a term used by travel websites in China to describe the type of trips that involve more unconventional journeys beyond the typical tourist experience.
For the very first time, Africa moved up to first place as the top in-depth travel destination Chinese travellers hope to visit in 2018, dethroning the ever-popular Japan and Australia. This shows that BRICS countries are a key tourism market for the African tourism industry.
Helmo Preuss in Durban, South Africa for The BRICS Post