President Jacob Zuma will cut the ribbon to officially open this year’s Tourism Indaba exhibition and gathering at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban on Tuesday.
Indaba is the premier tourism trade show on the continent and one of three top trade shows in the world.
The president will undertake a walkabout to the exhibition halls and stands in the award-winning Convention Centre and the neighbouring Durban Exhibition Centre, where tourism trade from several African countries and various tourism and marketing authorities including Durban Tourism and Tourism KwaZulu-Natal- as well as South African Tourism will be showcasing what they have to offer.
The Uganda Tourism Board, the Kenya Tourism Board, the Rwanda Tourism Board and Senegal will also be exhibiting, and there is a likelihood that the Egyptian Tourism Board will also have a presence. The SADC countries of Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Reunion Islands, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe will also be there.
Some 281 exhibitors, including hoteliers, B&B owners, tour companies, travel agencies and airlines and other hospitality and tourism-related businesses will also be heading for Durban for the big event.
Emerging entrepreneurs of black-owned businesses, will also man their stands, some on their own, and others under the auspices of their local tourism authorities.
Some 600 international and South African journalists will cover the event for their newspapers, magazines and social media blogs.
A conservative 10 000 out-of- town delegates are expected at this year’s Indaba, which is worth a whopping R200 million to Durban and the region. And that, explains the experts, creates and sustains 120 000 jobs.
Not only do hotels get occupied during Indaba, but restaurants, taxis, shuttles and shops do brisk business too.
Invaluable networking takes place and big business is concluded at Indaba, with most of the meetings having already been pre-arranged. Tourism and destination marketing authorities and exhibitors generally have back-to- back meetings with visiting delegates.
Some 306 hosted and 540 non-hosted international “buyers” who work for travel companies have confirmed that they will be flying in to see what exhibitors can offer their customers.
Deals and packages are struck, but as the industry works so far in advance, it can take some 18 months before a destination, hotel or region appears in a travel brochure.
This is the first time that the South African-owned Indaba has started on a weekday. In previous years, it began on a Saturday.
* The Tourism Indaba takes place from 16 -18 May. For more coverage of this premier tourism trade show buy The Mercury, Daily News and Sunday Tribune and visit iol.co.za.