The annual Tourism Indaba started yesterday (Saturday) with a lot of excitement from the tourism industry ahead of the Confederations Cup and 2010 World Cup to be held in the SADC region this June and next year respectively.
A number of Botswana Tour operators are showcasing their products at the event, which is Africa’s largest tourism marketing event held in Durban, South Africa every year.
Some of Botswana tourism companies that participated at the expo last year and which are making their comeback are African Excursions, a Maun-based tour company, which is exhibiting for the third time at the Indaba.
Officials of the company said they are participating in a build up to the achievement they made last year.
Last year, owner of the outfit, Sammy Mokgadi, said he had learnt a lot from the Indaba since he started exhibiting. It will be the third time that African Excursions is participating.
However, some travel agencies like AT&T Travel are not participating in the Indaba, but are targeting the World Travel Market of London, an international exhibition. ┬á
The travel agent division of AT&T Monnakgotla came about from the participation at the previous Indaba and the company said it has met their objective and that is why they have chosen a different avenue.
Botswana tour operators say they believe the expo will bring positive results for little known Botswana which is being overshadowed by South Africa.
“We are optimistic that the Indaba will bring positive results,” said one. “We are neighbours with South Africa and if there is congestion, let them (international travelers) know about us on time, they will know about us.”
Despite the subdued international travel market caused by the credit crunch, organisers of the Indaba said the attendance promised to eclipse last year’s record-setting global travel trade, media and exhibitor attendance.
The organisers said this year’s expo, the global industry focuses its attention firmly on the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup
They said there will be five percent more journalists (551 in total so far) at INDABA this year, with 204 of those confirmed media attendees coming from countries abroad.
To date, exhibitor numbers are 1 761 and visitor numbers so far total 3 910.
South African Tourism’s Didi Moyle recognised the global recession ahead of the event.
“We are realistic, though, and recognise that global economies are in recession and this is certainly having a knock-on effect on the industry, both here at home and elsewhere.”
Meanwhile, the organisers said the outbreak this week of the Swine Flu will have no impact on Indaba as health authorities across the world are now aware and capable of managing the disease adding that South Africa remains relatively unaffected.
The Department of Health’s Swine Flu management plan is already operational across the length and breadth of South Africa and health authorities are on high alert to manage any and all eventualities. The Department of Agriculture has also established that there have been no cases of Swine Flu in pigs in South Africa or in the region.