INDABA 2012 ends with 10,700 visitors

The industry came together to shape the future through a number of new introductions that facilitated collaboration, networking and profitable partnerships

QUALITY engagements and a number of innovations that added considerable value to visitors, buyers and media were the hallmarks of a successful INDABA 2012, which again entrenched its status as Africa’s top travel show.

INDABA ended today after four days in which the show theme of “Shaping our Future Together” were taken to heart by the more than 1 500 exhibitors from all parts of the Southern African tourism industry, who conducted millions of rands of tourism business in nearly 4 000 scheduled meetings held during the course of INDABA. 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.

This INDABA heralded a paradigm shift, focussing on consolidating 2011’s solid arrivals growth and putting the emphasis squarely on partnerships geared to ensure South Africa’s global tourism competitiveness and future growth.

South Africa’s people and culture and lifestyle emerged this year as a unique offering of the destination, and one the industry would focus on more and more in selling South Africa as a leisure destination.

A number of innovations were introduced for the first time at the tradeshow this year to give the industry greater platforms to make valuable contacts; to collaborate; to navigate INDABA and to focus on profitability and industry growth.

The theme of the show was set at the Opening Ceremony on Saturday evening (May 12) when National Tourism Minister, Mr Marthinus van Shalkwyk invited the sector to collaborate in the face of strong competition and to work together to remove barriers to international tourists to southern and South Africa.

Minister van Schalkwyk strongly emphasised the importance of partnership among all the different components of South Africa’s tourism value chain to achieve the country’s tourism targets of 15 million international tourist arrivals, 18 million domestic tourists and 54 million domestic trips by 2020.

“Achieving these 2020 targets will not simply fall into our laps. Over the next eight years, we will have to work harder than ever before; we will need to work together as we have done in the past. Together, we must keep our eyes on ever-changing consumer preferences, diversify our products, maintain excellent service, innovate our distribution channels, and ensure that we continue to deliver value for money. We must ensure that all our people share in the benefits of our new growth,” Minister van Schalkwyk said in an INDABA Opening Ceremony speech that was certainly heard, appreciated and acted on during the course of a successful INDABA.

The 2012 Opening Ceremony of INDABA was said by many to have been the show’s best yet, provided a strong industry message from the Minister of Tourism and South African Tourism Chief Executive Officer Thulani Nzima, interspersed with entertainment from the likes of MiCasa, Slikour, RJ Benjamin, Judith Sephuma and Thembisile, as well as great choreography from the popular Somizi Mhlongo.

Key drivers for partnership and collaboration at INDABA this year were the Shongololo Speed Marketing Sessions, a first by South African Tourism that gave exhibiting companies access to more than 200 hosted international buyers in a series of short meetings, much like speed dating sessions, which were a huge success.

Three Shongololo Sessions were held, each focussing on a particular group of experiences: ‘sustainable and responsible tourism’; ‘adventure tourism’ and ‘culture and heritage tourism’. Each session was oversubscribed, with easily the most popular session (the heritage and culture session) which was kicked off by South African musical legend Johnny Clegg, who emphasised the importance and opportunities presented by a strong future focus on cultural tourism.

The electronic matchmaking diary was a tremendous success, too. More than 3 700 business meetings were set up through the diary that went live more than six weeks ago.

Another business-relevant and valuable offering this year was a South African Tourism-hosted e-marketing workshop presented by Damian Cook, MD at e-Tourism Frontiers. The TripAdvisor workshops with the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa that offered the travel trade insights and tips on how to make the most out of this global travel platform were also immensely valuable, giving substance to the Tourism Minister’s message that the industry needed to ‘harness the power of technology to take the hassle out of travel’.

INDABA made a substantial impression on the social media with the #Indaba2012 hashtag trending for three days on Twitter.

South African Tourism introduced its INDABA App for iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android devices this year. The App helped to keep INDABA as sustainable and green as possible by minimising the need for printed collateral. It also gave 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 on the online Apple App store and by the third 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 that South Africa attends and will be available at WTM (in London in November).

While wildlife remained one of South Africa’s flagship tourist offerings, INDABA 2012 gave members of the international media tangible insight into the country’s urban culture and vibe with a memorable lunch at the popular Max’s Lifestyle in Umlazi. South African Tourism also addressed its marketing plans and market performance in four regional media briefings that focused on Africa; Asia and Australasia; Europe; and the Americas.

“This was the INDABA at which the industry truly came together to share the strong affinity and common objectives that binds the industry together; to collaborate for future growth, to share ideas and to work for a future shaped by all who work in tourism, and by all who are affected by tourism. Our preliminary feedback has been very good, with delegates emphasising the value of their interactions at INDABA and the quality of the networks made and business relationships forged,” said South African Tourism Chief Executive Thulani Nzima.

In the words of a US buyer, Michaela Brown: “This was the best trade show I’ve attended in years, perhaps the best ever. I have never left a trade show so energised and filled with so many ideas. I am blown away by the friendliness yet professionalism of the suppliers.”

Author: Muzi Mohale

Hi there, am your host and I blog about the tourism industry in South Africa. You're also welcome to contribute your expert content on matters affecting the industry. You can reach me on muzi[at]

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