As INDABA 2017 winds down, it's time for all Gauteng stakeholders to take stock and reflect on goals achieved, business opportunities secured and any realignment required to meet the ever-evolving needs of tourists planning to visit the province.
"My overarching observation at INDABA is that we need a higher level of selling and packaging products in Gauteng across many markets, making sure we showcase the offerings of Gauteng across different platforms," said Gauteng Tourism Authority (GTA) CEO Siphiwe Ngwenya on the third and last day of INDABA 2017.
"This is one of the reasons why we created a digital forum [Digital Symposium 2017] at which digital experts engaged in assisting people to understand the quick and efficient ways in which they can showcase their offerings using digital media ... to reach a global audience within seconds of communicating.
"In this space we are the biggest, most sophisticated province so we can offer the country more in terms of trends and showcase to people how to work via digital, and how to build their websites and use mobile phones to package their offerings better, faster and more efficiently," said Ngwenya.
GTA digital marketing manager Anele Mdzikwa echoed Ngwenya's sentiments. "This year we focused most of our attention on hosting our first digital symposium ahead of INDABA. We invited digital experts to share their knowledge, competencies, tools and resources for the current and future demands of a growing digital market, with a key focus on destination marketing.
"We’ll definitely host a digital symposium again next year, this time at INDABA itself. Based on the success of our inaugural digital symposium, we won’t limit it to INDABA. We plan to expand the concept to include other tourism platforms," said Mdzikwa.
GTA leisure manager Tiny Dolamo said the GTA stand attracted plenty of foot traffic, positive interaction and interest in what Gauteng has to offer tourists.
"Once again, Soweto proved very popular, with tour operators wanting to know what to see and do there. Vilakazi Street's famous residents [such as former president Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu], Orlando Towers bungee jumping and the Dinokeng Game Reserve have been of particular interest. Also, most people don’t know that Gauteng has the Big Five at Dinokeng, just an hour from OR Tambo Airport.
"We also clinched joint marketing agreements with a major tour operator to promote Gauteng in India, and we secured joint event-promotion opportunities with Kenya and Ghana," said Dolamo.
Durban has secured the hosting of INDABA, which is going to be rebranded as Africa's Travel INDABA in recognition of the growing number of countries on the continent taking part, for the next five years. Next year's event will take place from 8 to 10 May.