Indaba 2012 focused on ‘Shaping our future together’May 16th, 2012 by Susan Reynard | Categories: government, industry, tourism
Quality engagements and a number of innovations that added value to visitors, buyers and media were reported as key features of this year’s Tourism Indaba, Africa’s top travel show.
Indaba was held over four days, during which the show theme of “Shaping our Future Together” was embraced by the 1 500 exhibitors from across the Southern African tourism industry. It is estimated that millions of rands worth of tourism business in nearly 4 000 scheduled meetings held during the course of Indaba was conducted. By the start of business on 15 May, the final day of the show, some 10 700 people had passed through the show. The number of visitors and exhibitors are slightly down from 2011, as to be expected following what was declared as one of the toughest years in the hospitality industry worldwide since the global economic downturn in 2008.
Indaba 2012 focussed on consolidating 2011’s solid arrivals growth and placed the emphasis on partnerships geared to ensure South Africa’s global tourism competitiveness and future growth. Indaba is all about showcasing the country’s people, culture and lifestyle.
Pictured above are Zimbabwean Minister Mr Engineer Walter Mzembi signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with South Africa’s tourism minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk to strengthen cooperation between the countries and grow tourism to the SADC region. Also pictured above is Lesotho’s Minister of Tourism Ms Mmanete Malethole Ramaili shaking hands with van Schalkwyk following the signing of a similar MOU.
A number of innovations were introduced for the first time at the trade show this year to provide the industry with more platforms from which to make valuable contacts, collaborate, navigate Indaba and focus on profitability and industry growth.
The theme of the show was set at the opening ceremony on 12 May, when National Tourism Minister Marthinus van Shalkwyk invited the sector to collaborate in the face of strong competition and to work together to remove barriers to international tourists to southern and South Africa.
Van Schalkwyk strongly emphasised the importance of partnership among all the different components of South Africa’s tourism value chain to achieve the country’s tourism targets of 15 million international tourist arrivals, 18 million domestic tourists and 54 million domestic trips by 2020.
“Achieving these 2020 targets will not simply fall into our laps. Over the next eight years, we will have to work harder than ever before; we will need to work together as we have done in the past. Together, we must keep our eyes on ever-changing consumer preferences, diversify our products, maintain excellent service, innovate our distribution channels, and ensure that we continue to deliver value for money. We must ensure that all our people share in the benefits of our new growth,” van Schalkwyk said in his opening ceremony speech.
The 2012 opening ceremony put on a big show for visitors, with a strong industry message from the minister of tourism and South African Tourism CEO Thulani Nzima, interspersed with entertainment from the likes of MiCasa, Slikour, RJ Benjamin, Judith Sephuma and Thembisile, as well as choreography from the popular Somizi Mhlongo.
Key drivers for partnership and collaboration at Indaba this year were the Shongololo Speed Marketing Sessions, a first by SA Tourism that gave exhibiting companies access to more than 200 hosted international buyers in a series of short meetings, much like speed dating sessions, which were declared a success.
Three Shongololo Sessions were held, each focussing on a particular group of experiences: ‘sustainable and responsible tourism’; ‘adventure tourism’ and ‘culture and heritage tourism’. Each session was oversubscribed, with the most popular session – the heritage and culture session – kicked off by South African musical legend Johnny Clegg, who emphasised the importance and opportunities presented by a strong future focus on cultural tourism.
The electronic matchmaking diary was also a success, with more than 3 700 business meetings set up through the diary that went live some six weeks ago before the expo.
Another business-relevant and valuable offering this year was an SA Tourism-hosted e-marketing workshop presented by Damian Cook, MD at e-Tourism Frontiers. The TripAdvisor workshops with the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa that offered the travel trade insights and tips on how to make the most out of this global travel platform were also immensely valuable, giving substance to the tourism minister’s message that the industry needed to ‘harness the power of technology to take the hassle out of travel’.
Indaba made a good impression on the social media front, with the #Indaba2012 hashtag trending for three days on Twitter.
SA Tourism introduced its Indaba App for iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android devices this year. The App helped to keep Indaba as sustainable and green as possible by minimising the need for printed collateral. It also gave delegates instant access to Indaba on their mobile devices. Within a day of its launch, the App had made the list of the top 20 Apps for download on the online Apple App store and by the third day of Indaba, it had been downloaded in more than 110 countries. It will be fine-tuned for use at other big global travel trade shows that South Africa attends and will be available at WTM (in London in November).
While wildlife remains one of South Africa’s flagship tourist offerings, Indaba 2012 gave members of the international media insight into the country’s urban cultural experience with a lunch at the popular Max’s Lifestyle in Umlazi. SA Tourism also addressed its marketing plans and market performance in four regional media briefings that focused on Africa, Asia and Australasia, Europe and the Americas.
“This was the Indaba at which the industry truly came together to share the strong affinity and common objectives that binds the industry together; to collaborate for future growth, to share ideas and to work for a future shaped by all who work in tourism, and by all who are affected by tourism. Our preliminary feedback has been very good, with delegates emphasising the value of their interactions at Indaba and the quality of the networks made and business relationships forged,” says SA Tourism chief executive Thulani Nzima.
US buyer Michaela Brown commented: “This was the best trade show I’ve attended in years, perhaps the best ever. I have never left a trade show so energised and filled with so many ideas. I am blown away by the friendliness yet professionalism of the suppliers.”