By Lorraine Kearney
2 May 2014
Tourism is big business, which means tourism conferences and exhibitions are also big business. It is at these that tour companies, destinations, and others in the industry market themselves to the world.
The Tourism Indaba has been held in Durban each year since Pa fell off the bus. The next one runs from 10 to 12 May. And now there is a new kid on the block: the first World Travel Market Africa (WTM) is being held in Cape Town on 1 and 2 May, rounding off Africa Travel Week. It was preceded by IBTM Africa (Incentives, Business Travel & Meetings) and ILTM Africa (International Luxury Travel Market), all at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
Of course, the main WTM takes place in London annually. It’s a business-to-business event, and there are a bunch of people filling the huge exhibition hall at the CTICC. WTM Africa has exhibitors from 42 countries in Africa, America, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Mediterranean. Product categories range from the accommodation sector to the airline industry, destination management companies and many more, say the organisers.
Local trends such as Mandela pilgrimage tourism, online and mobile developments that enable consumers to bypass traditional distribution methods, and responsible tourism are being explored.
According to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, demand for international tourism in 2013 was strongest for destinations in Africa (+6%), as well as Asia and the Pacific (+6%). Africa attracted 3-million additional arrivals, reaching a new record of 56-million, reflecting the on-going rebound in North Africa (+6%) and the sustained growth of Sub-Saharan destinations (+5%). This year, regional prospects are strongest for Asia and the Pacific (+5% to +6%) and Africa (+4% to +6%).
The show has brought a vacation vibe to the Foreshore. “You don’t need a holiday, you need Cape Town” is the Cape Town Tourism slogan. And perhaps the travel industry does not need to go anywhere else: between Cape Town and Durban, WTM Africa and Tourism Indaba, with a week in-between to enjoy the sights and sounds of the rainbow nation, this is a good place to be.