By Taiye Olayemi
The 2023 edition of Africa’s Travel Indaba (ATI) started on Tuesday in Durban, South Africa, with delegates from 21 countries.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event with the theme, “Unlimited Africa”, was declared opened by Patricia De Lille, South African Minister of Tourism, at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.
According to Lille, to reposition African travel and tourism market, Africans have to engage in healthy and balanced collaborations and competitions.
She said competition was often considered to be the life-blood of destination marketing and tourism.
“While healthy competition can drive growth and innovation, unhealthy competition can lead to a race to the bottom, with businesses and destinations undercutting each other on price and quality.
“As the tourism industry, let us foster a culture of healthy competition, where businesses and destinations are encouraged to compete on quality and innovation.
“Let us remember that long-term success in the industry depends not only on competing but also on recognising the value of collaboration and partnerships.
“So, each player in the value chain has a unique role to play, and by working together, we can create seamless and memorable travel experiences for visitors – that is the spirit of Africa’s Travel Indaba,” she said.
She said the 2023 ATI, at near the pre-pandemic scale, also demonstrated that Africans could host world-class safe events.
“This year, at Africa Travel Indaba, we are working hard to exceed pre-COVID attendance numbers and have an estimated 6, 000 people attending from all over South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world.
“This year’s Indaba sees more than 350 tourism products being showcased, 1,000 buyers from across the tourism ecosystem and just under 1,000 exhibitors.
“The attendees include destination marketing bodies, hotel groups, airlines, tour operators, and 10 African tourism boards and 21 African countries represented here,” she said.
Lille said that the event was hosted under the mantra “Shaping Africa’s Tomorrow, Through Connection Today”.
She said a lot had changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the nation found it necessary and critical to reposition ATI to ensure it remains relevant in the current environment.
“This positioning speaks to the essence of Africa’s Travel Indaba, bringing the world to Africa to positively influence the continent’s economic and cultural trajectories.
“To all the buyers present here today, you are critical in promoting Africa as a premier travel destination and thank you for continuing to partner with us in showcasing our continent’s diverse experiences and attractions.
“To all the African product owners, thank you for your contribution in creating a cohesive and thriving tourism sector that benefits communities and promotes faster economic growth,” she said.
Lille explained that the South African Department of Tourism keenly understood the value of tourism businesses, especially small to medium enterprises.
According to her, this is the reason she remains proud of the investment made in this regard, as part of the department’s ‘Market Access Support Programme’ (MASP).
She said the department of tourism had supported 123 local small inbound tourism enterprises through its MASP, to showcase their products and services at the ‘Hidden Gems’ pavilion during ATI.
“The total value of support approved for the 123 enterprises amounts to R11.7million and this investment will enable these small businesses to display their unique products and services.
“It will also allow them to expand their networks, and foster partnerships that will drive the growth and sustainability of the tourism industry in South Africa,” she said.
Earlier, Nomasonto Ndlovu, acting Chief Executive Officer, South African Tourism (SAT), said the theme for the event was crafted with the observation of the enormous potential Africans possessed as well as their ingenuity.
“The theme for this year’s INDABA speaks directly to African countries’ immerse potential which will be showcased in the course of this expo.
“The energy here is absolutely electrifying and I am happy to be here today,” she said. (NAN)
Edited by Folasade Adeniran