16 May 2012

Tourism focus significantly shifted at INDABA 2012

The tourism industry came together at INDABA 2012 to shape the future through a number of new innovations that facilitated collaboration, networking and profitable partnerships.

Exhibitors at INDABA displaying their products to visitors, hosted buyers and media. Exhibitors at INDABA showcase their products

The industry truly came together at INDABA 2012 to share ideas and collaborate for future growth. Delegates have emphasised the value of their interactions at INDABA, the quality of the networks made, and business relationships forged. – Thulani Nzima, South African Tourism CEO.

INDABA 2012 ended yesterday after 4 days, in which the show’s theme ‘Shaping our Future Together’, was taken to heart by more than 1 500 exhibitors from the southern African tourism industry.

INDABA 2012 heralded a significant shift in emphasis. It focused on consolidating 2011’s solid arrivals growth and put the emphasis squarely on partnerships geared to ensure South Africa’s global tourism competitiveness and future growth.

Tourism Minister, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, set the tone for INDABA 2012 at the opening ceremony when he invited the southern African tourism sector to collaborate in the face of strong competition.

He called on the travel and tourism industry to work together to remove barriers to international tourists travelling to southern and South Africa. He also emphasised the importance of partnership to achieve the country’s tourism targets.

South Africa’s combination of people, culture and lifestyle emerged this year as a unique offering of the destination.

A number of innovations were introduced to give the industry better platforms to make valuable contacts, collaborate, navigate INDABA and focus on profitability and industry growth.

Among the key drivers for partnership and collaboration were the Shongololo Speed Marketing Sessions, a first for South African Tourism (SAT). The sessions gave exhibiting companies access to more than 200 international hosted buyers in a series of short meetings. These were much like speed dating sessions and were very successful.

The 3 sessions focused on responsible tourism, adventure tourism, and culture and heritage tourism, respectively. The culture and heritage session was kicked off by South African music legend Johnny Clegg, who emphasised the opportunities presented by a strong focus on cultural tourism.

Another business-relevant session was the SAT-hosted e-marketing workshop presented by Damian Cook, MD of E-Tourism Frontiers.

Also insightful were the TripAdvisor workshops with the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa, which offered the travel trade tips on how to make the most of this global travel platform.

SAT also addressed its marketing plans and market performance in 4 regional media briefings that focused on Africa, Asia and Australasia, Europe, and the Americas.

International media were given insight into the country’s urban culture and vibe with a memorable lunch at the Max’s Lifestyle in Umlazi.

Millions of rands of tourism business was conducted in the nearly 4 000 meetings scheduled through the electronic matchmaking diary.

By the start of business on Tuesday, (the last day of the show), more than 10 700 people had passed through the show’s turnstiles.

INDABA 2012 also made a substantial impression on social media websites with #Indaba2012 trending for 3 days on Twitter.

SAT introduced its INDABA app for iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android devices this year, giving delegates instant access to INDABA on their mobile devices.

Within a day of its launch, the app had made the list of the top 20 apps for download in the Apple App store. By the 3rd day of INDABA, it had been downloaded in more than 110 countries. It will be fine-tuned for use at other big global travel trade shows, including WTM in London.