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AAfrica's Top Travel trade show, INDABA, took place at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (Durban ICC) from 7 to 9 May and was attended by a total of 7 292 delegates. Seventeen countries from across the African continent exhibited with 96% of the space available utilised efficiently.

By the end of this three-day show, 3 000 more meetings were held as compared to last year.  With the number of hosted buyers and exhibitors also up, close to 6 000 meetings took place on the opening day of the INDABA while the second day saw over 5 000 meetings held. In total 14 000 quality meetings were held over the three days of the show.

"INDABA is a world-class event that is about offering exhibitors an opportunity to do business. This significant increase in meetings shows that our strategic aim of putting the exhibitors at the forefront of business success paid off. We are pleased with the quality of meetings held as this is an indication of the potential that tourism has to  contribute to the  economy through the connections made at  INDABA", says Acting Chief Executive Officer at South African Tourism, Ms Sthembiso Dlamini.

For the first time this year, there was a dedicated Hidden Gems Zone that showcased 70 Small Medium Micro-sized Enterprises (SMME) services. The hosting of the 70 SMMEs is significant as it serves not only to empower the small business by giving them market access but also to enhance and broaden South Africa’s tourism offering through showcasing the lesser-known products and services to buyers from across the globe.

Dlamini adds that "A big part of our mandate is to make sure that we are a leader in the tourism industry by creating and facilitating profitable opportunities for the South African tourism industry. It is therefore gratifying to see that some of the SMMEs that we brought to INDABA signed deals at the event. The importance of this global platform for SMMEs cannot be emphasised enough as it also adds to strengthening our domestic tourism which is the backbone of the sector."

Speed Marketing sessions also gave exhibitors an opportunity to take centre stage to sell, their products and services to international buyers throughout the three days of INDABA.

With technology leading the way in the tourism industry, the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) announced progress made on the Tourism Analytics Programme (TAP). This programme takes the classification process to the digital/social sphere, and entails integration of content from some key online travel review websites like, Trivago into the TGCSA’s grading system.

The insights from the TAP programme enable TGCSA assessors to offer holistic assessments of accommodation and conferencing establishments. They also enable establishments to understand their service quality shortcomings, therefore affording them an opportunity to improve and ultimately contribute to making South Africa a welcoming destination driven by service excellence.  Insights from TAP also assist establishments in managing their online reputation. This integration of the reviews into the star grading system also provides an opportunity for a credible and transparent adjudication of the national recognition Awards programme, the Lilizela Tourism Awards. Establishments that offer outstanding service and quality offering, are recognized and rewarded through the Awards and receive extensive profiling through South African Tourism.

TGCSA is the first on the African continent to implement this global trend. Through a bilateral agreement with the National Department of Tourism, TGCSA is open to sharing best practice with counterparts on the continent.

This year's show also boasted The Tech Talks which gave exhibitors and delegates an understanding of the latest trends on technology as well as share with them a wealth of information on how technology influences consumer behaviours and how the tourism industry is adapting to this ever-evolving climate.

Remaining true to its commitment of putting exhibitors at the forefront of business success and providing more networking opportunities, South African Tourism hosted opening and closing networking events on both the first and the last day of INDABA.  

“We would like to thank our tourism industry for their continued support and participation at INDABA.  It is only when we work together that we can continue showcasing the best of our destination and ultimately increase tourist arrivals to our country and to the rest of our continent,” concludes Dlamini.

The show has come a long way since the very first INDABA, and each year the show is evolving, taking tourism in South Africa to new heights. Today INDABA has become one of the top three 'must visit' travel trade shows on the global calendar as well as a gathering of Africa's tourism leaders, policy makers, global buyers and travel media.

South African Tourism, together with its partners, will spend the next few weeks reviewing INDABA 2016 with initial discussions and planning for INDABA 2017 having begun. The date for next year’s INDABA will be announced after the review process has been concluded.


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