13 May 2011

Innovation and creativity stand-out features of high-quality INDABA 2011

INDABA 2011 was a resounding success, thanks to the combined efforts of the South African tourism industry.

INDABA 2011 - launch of the Leave Ordinary Behind campaign

Our triumphs are centered on our people, our innate connections and our ability to innovate.

INDABA 2011 has raised the bar in terms of digital innovation and industry creativity – proving again emphatically the ability of the South African tourism sector to continuously reinvent itself in line with global trends in destination marketing. 

Amongst the generous feedback from exhibitors this year, the digital competitiveness of this year’s INDABA stood out. PokenÔ technology, introduced to encourage efficient networking, facilitated more than 45 000 ‘pokes’, or exchanges of contact details, proving INDABA remains the foremost and most innovative networking function in the travel and tourism industry in Africa. 

SA Tourism’s TouchTable proved to be one of the biggest talking points of the event, allowing up to eight people to simultaneously explore the various experiences on offer.  The ultra-modern table was a first in tourism destination marketing, and is poised to be a continued hit as it travels the world as part of SA Tourism’s marketing collateral. 

“The type of interaction demonstrated by the TouchTable is indicative of the level of engagement required to make an impact on the travel trade and consumer landscape of today. Initial feedback from exhibitors this year strongly support our quality over quantity objective.  Initial report backs show that meetings arranged this year were of a high quality, with greater outcomes and enhanced partnership building,” said January-McLean.

Growth through our people

While technology may have been king, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk summed up the spirit of INDABA 2011 best when he said tourism was not only about figures, policies, statistics and objectives – but about people being the key driver for economic development and job creation in the tourism industry.

One of the major INDABA highlights was the teamwork and cohesion displayed by the tourism sector in their collective approach to unpacking and achieving the ambitious National Tourism Sector Strategy’s 2020 targets.

In thanking the tourism sector in his INDABA opening address for taking ownership of the 2020 strategy, Minister van Schalkwyk said the objectives of the industry was now to increase the number of foreign tourist arrivals to South Africa from 7 million in 2009 to 15 million by 2020, tourism’s total contribution to the economy from R189 billion in 2009 to R499 billion by 2020 and to create 225 000 new jobs by 2020.

The over-riding South African Tourism message to the industry at INDABA was “Leave Ordinary Behind” – a clarion call to again emphasise that what set the country’s tourism industry apart was the personal connection and interaction tourists felt with South Africa’s people and its unique attractions.

This mantra echoed throughout every event held at INDABA and will be used in all the global and domestic marketing efforts of SA Tourism, who unpacked their target market strategies at key events throughout INDABA this week.

Africa and the domestic market remains a key SA Tourism priority going forward, backed by a significant R60 million marketing investment in the 2011/12 financial year in ensuring existing trade channels are entrenched, awareness built and the extension of the SA Tourism footprint.  There will also be a strategic shift towards a focus on ultimately creating regional tourism hubs in East and West Africa, where pooled arrivals signify great potential to match those from Asian markets. Key Africa air markets such as Angola, Nigeria, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo were identified in particular as African markets that hold great potential for tourism arrivals to South Africa. This will be backed by a robust domestic marketing campaign, backed up by all stakeholders in the tourism sector.

The emphasis on entrenching South Africa’s core tourism markets in Europe and aggressively pursuing emerging ones in the Americas, Asia and Africa was kick-started with the launch this weekend of the second phase of the 20 Experiences in 10 Days campaign, which will reach over one billion consumers in 600 million households worldwide this financial year.  Phase two of the global campaign includes couples from Germany, Angola, China and Brazil, who were invited to South Africa to enjoy a cross-nation tour, taking in the scenery, culture, adventure and most importantly, creating lasting memories through personal interaction with the locals they met along the way. 

“We’ve said it repeatedly over the last four days and we will continue saying it: ‘Our triumphs are centered on our people, our innate connections and our ability to innovate’.  This is the fuel that drove the INDABA 2011 showcase, and that will continue driving the success of our sector for many years to come. Drawing on people as the magic ingredient that differentiates tourism in South Africa was the motivation for us this year,” said SA Tourism CEO Thandiwe January-McLean.

Counting the value of INDABA 2011

Hotels, guesthouses, airlines, car rental companies and the exhibitions and events industry again did a roaring trade at Africa’s biggest travel and tourism trade show, with KZN Tourism’s CEO Ndabo Khoza estimating that the four-day INDABA injected between 200 and 250 million South African Rand into Durban’s economy.   

Unaudited figures show 11 205 people passed through the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre’s doors over the four exhibition days, with 1610 exhibitors and over 7210 exhibition personnel across all imaginable tourism-related business categories showcasing their products, and 661 local and international media registering to cover INDABA.  The top five exhibitor categories included Accommodation, Tour Operators, Game Lodges / Nature Reserves, Tourist Attractions and Transport businesses, which accounted for 83% of the total exhibitor presence.  National Tourism Authorities, Online Travel representatives and Conferencing Facilities also showed an impressive increase in presence this year. 

The INDABA attendance figures included nearly 3 000 international buyers and visitors, an impressive increase of 11% on the number of international delegates attending INDABA in 2010, as Africa’s top travel and tourism trade show continues to deliver ongoing trade and awareness to local and international suppliers and generates millions of rands of potential tourism revenue. Of the international delegates and buyers from 98 different countries that attended INDABA 2011, the highest number of delegates per country came from the United Kingdom (267), the United States (166), Germany (138), Zimbabwe (102) and the Netherlands (97).

“The promising mix of international representation from our traditional markets, such as those countries within the European region, together with an impressive increase in visitors from African countries such as Nigeria and Ghana, give a good indication that our identified strategies going forward have been matched with a good response from our global travel markets,” continues January-McLean.