Africa’s Travel Indaba 2018 is playing host to 1 120 tourism industry exhibitors and 1 747 buyers from all over the world – and Gauteng is well represented at the annual event, which runs from 8 to 10 May this year at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre in Durban.
On day one, South Africa Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom and Deputy Minister of Tourism Elizabeth Thabethe welcomed hundreds of attendees to the indaba and rang the brass bell that officially announced Africa’s readiness to conduct tourism business.
Generating tourism business in Gauteng is the Gauteng Tourism Authority’s main goal at Africa’s Travel Indaba, which provides an annual opportunity to showcase Gauteng’s five regions, its many destinations, heritage sites, SMMEs and related tourism offerings.
“Gauteng is an inspirational province,” said Barba Gaoganediwe, head of destination promotions and marketing at Gauteng Tourism, adding that the travel trade show enables Gauteng to stimulate economic growth in South Africa as a whole.
He said that children born in small towns around South Africa are inspired by Gauteng, a province many are eager to visit one day. “Gauteng’s goal is to share this inspiration with the rest of South Africa, Africa and the world,” he said.
Also sharing its story with the world at Africa’s Travel Indaba is Constitution Hill, “a living museum that tells the story of South Africa’s journey to democracy”. This popular tourist destination offers daily tours to the public and hosts regular public events within the precinct. Bandile Fakude, representing Constitution Hill at Indaba, said he is there to build relationships, especially with tour operators in South Africa and the rest of the world.
Fakude added that there is also a strong focus on the concert, eventing and conferencing elements of Constitution Hill’s offering. As a concert venue, Constitution Hill will be hosting major events this year, including the Basha Uhuru Freedom Fest and Afropunk. “We want to absorb and engage with these kinds of buyers, and invite them to host their events and concerts at Constitution Hill,” said Fakude.
Also marketing its offerings at Africa’s Travel Indaba this year is Dinokeng, which provides visitors to Gauteng the chance to experience “Africa in a day”. Solani Mthethwa, representing Dinokeng, explained how Dinokeng is made up of diverse areas that offer visitors the chance to see the Big Five, explore Cullinan and visit the Roodeplaat Dam, all within Gauteng.
Another area that is a must-see when visiting Gauteng is the Cradle of Humankind, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Cradle spokesperson Thabo Mokhele said there are myriad Cradle of Humankind products that make the region so attractive to tourists. These include Maropeng, the official visitor centre for the World Heritage Site, and the world-famous Sterkfontein Caves.
“One major objective this year is to showcase the 400 tourism products in our region, because without them, the Cradle of Humankind would not be what it is today. These products are what make the destination,” said Mokhele, who added that the prime objective is job creation. “The products enable jobs to be created, which is our overall mandate.”
Despite challenges that tourism has endured over the past few years, according to Statistics South Africa the South African tourism sector outperformed other key industries in terms of job creation, adding just over 40 000 net new jobs to the economy over the five-year period from 2012 to 2016.
Africa’s Travel Indaba continues to play a pivotal role in driving the economy through job creation as a spin-off of the annual tourism industry gathering, which has seen 80 countries represented this year.