DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA – On 8th May 2018 when the clock hit passed the 0900hour the South African Minister Derek Hanekom rang the bell that signalled the start of trading at Africa’s Travel Indaba in the coast city of Durban, South Africa.
What made the ringing of the bell significant was that it symbolised that the African continent is open for tourism business, atleast according to tourism ministers who attended the weeklong event.
In his official opening speech, Hanekom did not delay to say that Africa’s share of the global tourism pie has not yet reached its potential.
Hanekom’s speech summed up sentiments ushered by tourism Ministers from several African Countries a previous night at one of the talk sessions.
At the ministerial talk session, there was a call for greater regional cooperation to ensure growth in tourism across the continent.
“Tourism in Africa is advancing steadily and we have been able to leverage successfully on our geographical and cultural assets to attract tourists to our continent.”
“With global tourist arrivals predicted to reach 134 million by 2030, there is an increased need for us to address the challenges that hinder the growth of tourism.
“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,” said Hanekom.
In attendance was tourism Ministers from Angola, Kingdom of eSwatini (formerly 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.
The minister’s session was themed “Integrated Regional Tourism ÔÇô A Tool for Economic Development”. It also had key tourism industry experts and players deliberating on the state of tourism in the country.
Botswana’s tourism minister Tshekedi Khama was not in attendance. The country was however represented by government agencies amongst them Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO), Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) and the Local Entrepreneurial Agency (LEA). Under their umbrellas, both CEDA and LEA sheltered private companies from Botswana which happens to be the entities clients. LEA is said to have assisted seven (7) clients to exhibit at the event as a way of providing Market Access while BTO housed Cresta Marakanelo Group, Khama Rhino Sanctuary Trust, Avani Hotels and Ta Shebube amongst others.
The Africa’s Travel Indaba is regarded as one of the largest tourism marketing events that showcase the widest variety of African tourism products and services for the international travel trade. The event has as such been regarded by some of the foreign tourism agents as Africa’s tourism stock exchange.