The continental tourism extravaganza, Africa Travel Indaba ended on a high note on Thursday night with calls for innovation, cooperation between Africa countries and also with role players to make the industry prosperous.
The 2017 Travel Indaba was hailed as a resounding success with 20,000 confirmed meetings being held over the three-day show, a 20 percent increase compared to last year. Over 7,000 delegates including 1,449 local and international buyers and over 1,000 exhibiting businesses from 18 African countries exhibited a diverse array of travel and tourism offerings.
One of the issues that featured prominently in the conference was acknowledgment of the pivotal role the tourism sector play in the country’s GDP and job creation. South African President Jacob Zuma called for African countries and actors in the sector to work together.
“Working together as Africans with our global partners, we can open our beautiful continent to further growth in tourism. We are determined to move Africa forward in this business. We are ready to work in partnership with our sister countries on the continent, and with our partners in the tourism industry, to make Africa a destination of choice for the world. It is indeed most encouraging that more and more world travelers are discovering our continent. It means they see its value as an exceptional destination for holidays and business events,” said the president.
A number of issues came out of the conference. For tourism to grew and be inclusive and sustainable, there was a call for the women to be included in the higher positions in the industry. South Africa’s Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa encouraged African countries to elevate women to higher positions in the tourism sector. She revealed that South Africa has a target of having 30 percent of women owning, in board and executives in the sector.
“Looking at women in tourism, there are few in leadership or women who are CEOs. Improve your skills, provide quality products and contribute to the GDP… Make us proud and participate… We want to take our rightful places,” said the minister.
The S. Africa Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona, said role players in the industry have to be innovative and come up with packages and solutions to boost tourism.
“We are confident that the additional offerings, SME showcase and enhanced platforms for dialogue and information-sharing contributed to the success of Africa’s Travel Indaba 2017. We are not done yet though, with several more enhancements and a refreshed brand planned for 2018, and we trust that exhibitors, delegates, media and buyers will be as excited as we are for next year’s event,” he noted.
The next Africa’s Travel Indaba will be held at the Durban International Conference Center in Durban on May 8-10, 2018. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, the world international tourist arrivals grew by 4 percent on average yearly. Africa had 8 percent increase in international tourist arrivals to reach 58 million arrivals.