File photo: They were selling KwaZulu-Natal venues for gatherings and promoting the province as a tourist attraction.

Durban - One of Durban’s biggest annual events, the Indaba tourism trade show, is under threat from competing shows under the umbrella of Africa Travel Week to be held in Cape Town.

The Cape Town shows will take place a week before South African Tourism’s Indaba, which is held in Durban in May.

 

UK-based Reed Exhibitions, which hosts one of the largest annual global travel trade shows, World Travel Market, in London, is behind the Africa Travel Week concept.

This will see three travel shows hosted in Cape Town over a week, including the first World Travel Market Africa, the second annual International Luxury Travel Market Africa and a business tourism event.

While some industry players say competition is good, others have questioned the timing, which they say seems to be a concerted effort to lure the travel trade and hosted buyers away from the Durban event.

South African Tourism, which owns Indaba, has been tight-lipped and had not responded to questions at the time of publication.

Indaba will take place at Durban’s International Conference Centre from May 10-12, in the 24th consecutive year in which it has been hosted in the city.

Durban and the provincial government have invested millions in bidding for, and expanding, the show over the years to become the continent’s biggest annual travel trade show, attracting more than 10 000 delegates.

World Travel Market Africa has the backing of Cape Town and the Western Cape government.

Cape Town officials have wanted to lure Indaba to the Mother City, but dropped out of previous bids as its convention centre was not big enough.

Kidding

Cape Town has plans to double the size of its ICC. In 2011, after Durban won a five-year contract to continue to host Indaba, then Cape Town mayoral candidate Patricia de Lille said she wanted the show for her city.

Mmatsatsi Ramawela, the chief executive of industry body the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, told The Mercury yesterday that the World Travel Market Africa event needed to be taken seriously.

“We’ve got to be kidding ourselves if we think that World Travel Market Africa and the Africa Travel Week showcase in Cape Town is not competition to Indaba.

“Only time will tell what the impact will be, but the council still fully supports Indaba as a home-grown event,” she said.

However, Ramawela also said “competition is a good thing” and council member companies had the right to choose which travel show they wanted to participate in.

Mike Jackson, East Coast regional chairman of the Federated Hospitality Association of SA, said they were concerned about the development.

“But there is nothing Fedhasa East Coast can do about an extra travel show in Cape Town,” he said.

Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry boss Andrew Layman said: “This has to be seen as a direct competitor to Indaba, and one wonders how many exhibitors/buyers from overseas will tarry for another week in the country.”

Layman said his biggest worry was that the municipality would be bound to continue to invest in an event that might decline in importance. Indaba generated about R300 million for the local economy.

“People have rung alarm bells about Indaba for some time, but SA Tourism, if it has listened, has not made positive moves to act in defence of what should be the nation’s premier tourism show,” he said. - The Mercury