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African states target domestic tourism growth

Sthembiso Madlala, the Chairperson of the Tourism KZN Board, Lindiwe Rakharebe, the CEO of Durban ICC and eThekweni’s Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda with the KZN Tourism ambassadors at 2022 Africa’s Travel Indaba which took place in Durban this week. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA)

Sthembiso Madlala, the Chairperson of the Tourism KZN Board, Lindiwe Rakharebe, the CEO of Durban ICC and eThekweni’s Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda with the KZN Tourism ambassadors at 2022 Africa’s Travel Indaba which took place in Durban this week. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 7, 2022

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All African countries have the potential for domestic tourism growth despite the problems they face, like the natural disaster that has left parts of South Africa devastated by flash floods recently, Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said on Tuesday at the opening of the 2022 Africa Travel Indaba, which was hosted in Durban.

Sisulu said KwaZulu-Natal was making good progress in recovering from the devastation of the recent torrential rain and flooding that had disabled the city. The minister opened the trade floor giving various exhibitors an opportunity to showcase their offerings to the tourism sector at this 2022 edition of the indaba.

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The event is Africa’s biggest tourism trade show where countries on the continent showcase their destinations to global tourism buyers, and it is estimated that this year’s indaba will generate R72.5million for the local economy. Addressing the delegation from more than 55 countries, including 18 from Africa and various businesses, Sisulu said the event was a show of force and resilience by the people after the floods caused havoc in the province.

“I would like to thank every South African as well as partners from across the world for the support they have shown in ensuring that our sector and the people of KwaZulu-Natal get back on their feet.

“We must be cognisant that we are experiencing warning signs of climate change. Therefore, our sector must be part of the united global response to the challenge of reducing carbon emissions,” she said.

Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, in partnership with Durban Tourism, hosted a Business Breakfast to kickstart the event, where KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Ravi Pillay highlighted the key tourism developments that are in the pipeline for KZN. Pillay said despite the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, the civil unrest last year, the floods and a weakened operating environment, tourism had survived the past two years and was now ready to be reignited for the benefit of all in the province, South Africa, and on the continent.

“Tourism plays a hugely important role in assisting our country to make its mark on the map of Africa and the globe. “I am confident that tourism is ready to bounce back with a bang and to reclaim its coveted position as a worthy contributor to employment.

“The province is ready to revitalise the tourism value and supply chains and look forward to the economic benefits of the various upstream and downstream activities which tourism supports. In the past two years, the world has learnt new ways of doing tourism safely.

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Many product owners have used the downtime to refresh and revitalise their offerings. Some operators have used the time to develop entirely new facilities in anticipation of a resumption in tourism, he said.

Pillay added that Capital Zimbali in the North Coast town of Ballito was taken over by the Capital Group, which further poured millions of rands to get it up and running after it shut down due to the travel restrictions caused by Covid-19. Speaking at the business breakfast on Tuesday, eThekwini Municipality councillor Nkosenhle Madlala said that the City of Durban was excited that the Africa Travel Indaba had returned after being put on hold for two years due to the pandemic, adding that the return of the signature event would bring much-needed relief to the local tourism sector.

He said that the event played a significant role in boosting the city’s tourism economy as projections indicate about 3 700 delegates are expected to attend the Indaba. South Africa’s Tourism acting CEO Themba Khumalo said more than 19000 meetings had been arranged at the conference for matchmaking between the right buyers and the right exhibitors.

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This year’s event boasted no less than 126 authentic and uniquely African products and experiences, while over 539 buyers travelled from across the world to come and interact with these products and experiences.

The Africa Travel Indaba opened on Monday with Business Opportunities and Networking Day (BONDay), with a workshop for small to medium-sized enterprises and the youth taking centre stage.

Digital transformation featured prominently, with two plenaries discussing its role in the future of tourism as a sector operating in the digital age. Tourism KwaZulu-Natal hosted Africa’s Travel Indaba delegates from the US at the Oyster Box in Umhlanga.

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There were 379 694 US visitors to KZN in 2019 and 71 959 in 2020. In 2021, there were 4 465 US visitors to KZN during January and September, with an average spend per trip of R26 000, giving an economic impact of R116m for that year.

The international market is critical for tourism business owners to create networks, showcase their tourism products and clinch business deals that will begin to stimulate more travel back to KZN. Tourism KZN wants to start repackaging and reselling tourism products and get their international key source markets back on track. Systems were put in place to ensure that tourists felt welcome and safe in KZN.

Phindile Makwakwa, acting chief executive officer of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, said while the province is on the road to recovery, the organisation needs to go back to its source markets

Tourism KZN is confident that with the programmes that are in place to revive the global markets, the organisation will begin to see an increase in tourists’ arrivals from all over the world coming back to the Zulu kingdom,” she said.

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