17 May 2013

Brisk business at high-energy INDABA 2013

INDABA 2013 was a modern, cutting-edge event that significantly enhanced networking to stimulate tourism trading between buyers and exhibitors.

INDABA 2013 was all about making business connections.Here Tourism Minister Marthinus van Scalkwyk meets some exhibitors.  Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk meets exhibitors at INDABA 2013

We are confident that our effort to stimulate meaningful engagements between buyers and exhibitors at INDABA was effective, and that this will lead to the generation of millions of rands in tourism business, and tourists, which will contribute substantially to the long-term growth of our industry. – Thulani Nzima, SAT CEO

The importance of personal interactions to grow South Africa’s tourism industry, while taking a practical technological leap, was the standout theme of INDABA 2013.

The event was the ideal place for major global trade buyers to engage with their pan-African suppliers, tailor-make holiday packages and be exposed to new tourism products.

The unaudited figures indicate that well over 10 000 delegates passed through the turnstiles over the course of the show.

There were 1 386 exhibitors and 2 341 local and international buyers that attended the show, up 3% on last year. The number of independent international buyers attending the show was 1 464, up 6.86% on last year. In addition, SAT hosted 249 top international buyers, up 20% on the 208 international buyers hosted in 2012.

Business connections were the order of the day at INDABA 2013, with about 3 000 formal meetings scheduled between buyers and exhibitors using the show’s online Matchmaking Diary.

According to the INDABA Connect platform – designed to facilitate effective sharing of contact details, product information and marketing collateral – 240 693 electronic connections (more than 60 000 per day) were made by 11 458 INDABA Connect users, who shared over 14 258 documents.

There was also good media interest, with 802 media covering the show, 11% more than in 2012. There were 190 international media representatives in attendance, up 23% on last year.

Thulani Nzima, South African Tourism (SAT) CEO, said SAT set out to entrench INDABA’s value as the continent’s top tourism trade event, ensuring that top-quality buyers – serious about doing business with South Africa’s tourism industry – attended the show.

‘We are confident our effort to stimulate meaningful engagements between buyers and exhibitors at INDABA was effective. We believe this will lead to millions of rands in tourism business, and tourists, which will contribute substantially to the long-term growth of our industry,’ he said.

Nzima also commented on the impressive quality of the exhibitor stands and considerable investment made by exhibitors: ‘This was a significant vote of confidence, and added considerably to the quality of the show.’

Ndabo Khoza, Tourism KwaZulu-Natal CEO, said he hoped that INDABA 2013’s success is seen in terms of the quality of meetings and business linkages formed, rather than in terms of delegate numbers. ‘This way, INDABA will be seen as an event that resulted in meaningful deals that hit the bottom line of the South African trade, with long-term spin-offs culminating in job creation and an economic boost for the country,’ he said.

South African Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk announced during INDABA that as part of the show’s growth and expansion plans, African participation at INDABA 2014 and beyond will be gradually increased. This year 13 Southern African Development Community countries with 426 exhibitors were present.

A highlight of INDABA 2013 was the Heritage and Culture Pavilion – an INDABA first – that put the spotlight on South Africa’s heritage and culture tourism experiences and attractions, and on the country’s eight Unesco World Heritage sites. The pavilion featured creations from top South African designers Nkhensani Nkosi, David Tlale, Marianne Fassler and Thula Sindi, all inspired by the country’s World Heritage Sites.

The three speed marketing sessions were also very popular and packed to capacity – they gave global buyers considerable insight into South Africa’s heritage and cultural attractions, experiences, national parks and wine routes.

Feedback from exhibitors and buyers, available in real-time using the popular #INDABA2013 hashtag, was also positive, with considerable credit given for an exceptionally business-like, high-tempo show.

‘Last day at INDABA 2013. What a fantastic energy this year!’ said a tweet from @ShamwariSafari.

‘The vibe in the air is exhaustion. See you all at #INDABA2014. Thank you #Durban,’ was another, from @TourvestDM, which summed up the feelings after another busy show.

‘Love how high-tech #INDABA2013 in #Durban is,’ was another comment, from freelance writer Sarah Khan.

‘Bye bye #INDABA2013, looking forward to #INDABA2014,’ read a tweet from Wild Travel magazine.

Rovos Rail, which had considered downscaling its stand this year, was relieved it didn’t. ‘We’ve been very impressed. It was good,' said marketer Joy Strydom.

Registration for INDABA 2014 opens on 24 May 2013. INDABA regulars will be rewarded for their loyalty with long-term sliding-scale benefits and structured packages from INDABA 2014 and beyond. Newcomers can benefit from early-bird packages. For details and to confirm attendance at INDABA 2014, visit the INDABA website.