May 17, 2019
DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA: More than 1000 exhibitors from 19 African countries welcomed 1800 buyers and media practitioners from 88 countries at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (ICC) for the continent’s biggest travel show, “Africa’s Travel Indaba 2019.”
An annual event, Indaba, as it is commonly referred to, is firstly a showcase of African tourism products and services for the international travel trade.
More importantly though, Indaba is an opportunity for the Mother Continent — dubbed as such because it is home to some of the oldest hominid fossils and some of the world’s most unique biodiversity — to tell its unique story and invite the rest of the world for a worthy visit.
“Africa’s Travel Indaba has become synonymous to storytelling, and this year’s theme, ‘Africa’s Stories, Your Success,’ re-emphasizes the importance of telling our own stories and showcasing our success,” South Africa Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom declared at Indaba’s opening on May 2.
“This continent is teeming with real stories — some of which are simply not told or heard — woven into all the products and experiences that are showcased here,” the minister added.
Success on tourism
Hanekom then indulged the audience with the continent’s success in terms of tourism.
“In 2018, Africa recorded 67 million international tourist arrivals, a growth of seven percent from 2017, considerably ahead of the world’s six percent-growth,” Hanekom noted.
What the figure meant was that, directly and indirectly, the tourism sector has contributed 8.5 percent to African gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018, supporting 24 million jobs across the continent.
Specifically, Hanekom noted how Ethiopia — considered as Africa’s and the world’s fastest growing economy — increased its GDP by 48.6 percent in 2018, thanks to successfully establishing itself as a regional transport hub, and consequently bringing the large volume of tourists to the whole African continent.
Egypt is also a shining example for Hanekom. The country has demonstrated considerable resilience and through safety improvements in key destinations, has enticed international tourists to visit the country again. Finally, there’s Kenya that grew its tourist arrivals by whopping 37 percent in 2018.
However, while these figures are impressive, Hanekom noted that the overall tourism contributions to GDP in Africa is still way below the global average of 10.4 percent.
“What this tells us is that we have huge, unrealized potential to unlock,” the minister deduced.
“United Nations World Tourism Organization predicts that 1.8 billion people will be traveling globally by 2030 and that Africa will increase its share from the current five percent to seven percent of all global arrivals. This would be 126 million arrivals, almost double the number we now have,” Hanekom divulged.
To meet this projection, Hanekom noted that Africa needs to see a growth of five percent arrival per year until 2030.
“Are we up to this? Yes, most definitely!” Hanekom proudly declared.
The key, according to Hanekom, is to enhance Indaba every year and bring together a range of Africa’s best and most unique products and connect them with buyers from across the world.
Hanekom, most certainly, was confident that Africa would meet the projection due to its irresistible offerings from around the continent.
“We have scenery that would surely surpass any expectations — huge sand dunes, majestic snow-capped mountains and towering volcanoes, immense lakes and splendid powerful rivers, rich wetlands, deltas and estuaries, waterfalls, including the impressive Victorian Falls — spectacular canyons, endless lengths of magnificent coastline, with pristine beaches and imposing rock formations,” Hanekom enumerated.
Lush vineyards, undulating plantations, rich farms, teeming junglewoods, rolling safaris and idyllic tropical islands add to Hanekom’s list.
The minister also took pride in Africa’s significant and unique heritage and culture, from ancient civilizations to the myriad of lively, colorful and joyful African cultures.
“The truth is, Africa is the place we all come from, all of us and we must proudly proclaim that. Whichever corner of the world you come from, your earliest ancestors came from this continent so, welcome home,” Hanekom emphasized.
He also noted that cultural industries and festivals are also big selling points of Africa, “We have a huge variety of music, African traditional and contemporary. Many genres of theater and myriads of dances.”
Of course, not be left behind in these offerings are the diverse wildlife and safari experiences found only in Africa.
“The continent is a witness to the largest concentration of wild animals in the world while Serengeti in the northern part of Tanzania has the most spectacular migration of animals in the planet.
“Our own Kruger National Park is home to numerous wilds; Rwanda and all its amazing foxes; and Uganda, with its incredible gorillas. The list of wildlife goes on.”
Beneath the land wildlife is Africa’s host of private nature reserves, offering marine life experiences such as diving, whale-viewing, swimming with sharks, amazing coral reefs and prolific fish and marine wildlife.
For all its rich wildlife, there are matching adrenaline-pumping adventures that offer more than just visual treats.
“There are mountains to climb, seas to sail and surf. There’s bungee jumping, hand gliding, zip lines, and more. Add to these are pleasing climates and they can be no better place than our continent for the adrenaline junkies and the adventure seekers,” Hanekom further enumerated.
For metropolitan junkies
Finally, Hanekom added to Africa’s long list of offerings, an experience for those who have reservations in adventures and the wild.
“We have buzzing and vibrant cosmopolitan cities offering kaleidoscope of action, from shopping malls with international designer brands to neighborhood and farmer’s markets and restaurants of every authentic global cuisine.”
All in all, the continent’s tourism executive demonstrated that Africa has all the possible experiences any tourist around the globe could possibly look for.
“With this indisputable and competitive geographic advantage, we have the best of what the world’s tourists are seeking,” he said.
In conclusion, he encouraged his audience to share Africa’s true story.
“Let’s work together to replace the sometimes negative narratives of Africa with a real story of so many nations on the move and of people innovating and moving confidently into the future. Let’s ensure that tourism makes a positive and meaningful contribution to the lives of the people of Africa,” Hanekom ended.
Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net