10 May 2014

INDABA 2014 kicks off

INDABA 2014 is under way. Here are some highlights of the build-up and the first day.

Indaba 2014 Master of Ceremonies Sello Maake ka-Ncube

INDABA 2014 kicked off with a rousing opening ceremony that celebrated the pan-African nature of Africa's 26-year-old tourism conference, which is not only the largest in Africa, but the third-largest event of its kind in the world.

South African Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk highlighted the presence of 24 African countries at the exhibition and also asked tourism ministers representing African countries such as Angola, Benin and Burundi to stand up and introduce themselves to the audience. 

In a colourful ceremony of song, dance and poetry, the theme of 20 years of democracy since the 1994 election was the focal point for all the speakers, including SA Tourism CEO Thulani Nzima, eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo and Tourism MEC for Kwa-Zulu Natal Mike Mabuyakhulu.

Master of ceremonies Sello Maake ka-Ncube set the tone for African ubuntu when he said: "I am who I am because of who you are," while popular music group Mafikizolo had the whole crowd up and dancing at the end.

In his speech, Van Schalkwyk pointed out that in 1994, total international arrivals, including tourist arrivals, stood at a mere 3,6-million. 

"During our two decades of democracy, these arrivals have grown by more than 300% to reach nearly 15-million last year, 9,6-million of which were tourist arrivals. The story of 20 years of tourism since 1994 is a remarkable one indeed."

Sketching a picture of fundamental and profound change in the industry, he added: "I am convinced that, 20 years from now, history books telling the story of tourism on our continent will describe how a modernised and truly pan-African INDABA has been one of those pivots that helped us to take tourism to the next level on our continent."

Here are a few highlights from the first day of an exciting, connected #INDABA2014...

Blogger curtain raiser

After a day spent exploring Durban on foot and by bus, the 14 #MeetSouthAfrica bloggers were guests of honour at the #MeetSouth Africa bloggers’ cocktail event held at the KZNSA Gallery in Bulwer Road on the eve of #INDABA2014. These are some of the blogger impressions of their whirlwind trip through South Africa:

TechTalks

The first talk was given by Brett StClair, Google enterprise country manager for South Africa, who spoke about Google’s innovations and thinking, and how these intersect and influence travel.

At the very least, get the basics right, he said – be on social media platforms. “We’re not online to look at boring, mundane stuff – show what’s so incredible about your business. Do something different,” he said.

Damian Cook, CEO of E-Tourism Frontiers, focused on the use of technology in social media for tourism.

Nearly 60% of all travel is researched, bought and sold online. And if you’re not present in this market, you are missing out.

He spoke about how video has become the most powerful tool for sharing experiences; you can convey emotion in video. Nothing beats good, strong visuals.

Warrick Godfrey focused on Facebook, highlighting its complementary relationship with travel. He said 51% of content on Facebook is travel related and that 58% of people are inspired to take a specific holiday by the photographs of someone else’s experiences.

Speed marketing

There are three speed-marketing sessions taking place at #INDABA2014. The first of these was titled ‘Hidden Treasures’ and it took place on Saturday. This session was a way to showcase South African products that are not on most tourist routes.

Each presenter was given five minutes to sell their product offerings to a packed room of media, visitors, exhibitors and buyers. The session also included a lively musical performance by The Caribbean Connection.

Minister's walkabout

Minister Van Schalkwyk spent an hour walking through the stands in the morning, meeting exhibitors and chatting to them about their businesses.

Opening ceremony