The Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA) hosted a record number of its Japanese market stakeholders at its Networking Reception at the end of the 2nd day of trading at the 2017 Tourism Expo Japan on the 22 September 2017.
In her welcoming address, the Chairperson of the Tourism Sub-Committee of the SADC Ambassadors in Tokyo, Zambian Ambassador, Mrs Ndiyoi Mutiti encouraged all the tour operators and travel agents present to sell the unique SADC tourism experiences. "The role of my office is to coordinate the efforts of RETOSA and the SADC group of Ambassadors based in Tokyo, Japan in promoting our region jointly to the Japanese Market.  Our combined efforts aim to secure an increase in Japanese tourist arrivals".  

She further called on the private sector in the Region to take advantage of the opportunity that is being created by RETOSA’s participation at the Tourism Expo Japan, Tokyo each year.
The South African Minister of Tourism, Ms. Tokozile Xasa gave the main address, her first at this Expo since her appointment as and Chairperson of the SADC Committee of Tourism Ministers, where she highlighted the importance of the work done by RETOSA in Marketing the Region.  

She said: "I would like to thank JATA and RETOSA for affording SADC Embassies accredited to Japan an opportunity to participate in the Tourism  Expo Japan 2017 and to afford our tour operators present here tonight an oppotunity to sell Southern Africa."

She assured the audience that, "All of us in SADC will continue to innovate and develop more tourism products that will not only bring mutual benefits to tourists and tour companies alike, but will continue to increase revenue simultaneously creating a positive economic impact on local communities in a sustainable way. The SADC region is unique and has diverse activities that can be enjoyed by both young and old tourist”
She further indicated that “JATA helps us create a collective approach to marketing Southern Africa which is impactful and cost-effective. See it as a clear demonstration of our unity in diversity, Ladies and gentlemen SADC is alive and open for business”.

The last item of the evening was the historic presence and special address by the Senior Vice President of JICA (Japanese International Cooperation Agency), Mr Hiroshi Kato, who re-committed JICA's support for the important work that RETOSA is doing.  He emphasized the positive impact that the newly restructured RETOSA will have on the Region as it focuses on its new mandate – that of marketing the region. 
JICA is encouraged by the transformation at RETOSA with Mr Kato saying, "We wish RETOSA well as we continue working closely with them into the future."
“This event is one of the ways in which RETOSA can clearly demonstrate that it has already begun to deliver tangible value to the SADC Member States.  One-on-one meetings were organized on the sidelines of this Networking Reception between Ambassadors of the SADC countries in Tokyo and Mr Hiroshi Kato,” said Mrs Thembi Kunene-Msimang, Executive: Marketing and Communications at RETOSA.
In the case of South Africa, this means the Tourism Minister herself had an opportunity to directly engage with a key decision-maker of JICA and make a case for continued support from this world-class Cooperation Agency. 

Mrs Kunene-Msimang concluded by confirming that, "The RETOSA management team is hard at work to secure funding assistance to enable it to participate at the 2018 Tourism Expo Japan.  This time we call on all the tourism operators to come on board and join us in making a bigger impact for our Region in the Japanese Market. Details on how operators can participate will be communicated through all the tourism authorities of the SADC Member States as well as posted on our online platforms in due course.”