3 November 2014
The World Travel Market (WTM) tourism trade expo taking place in London will afford South Africa an opportunity to build on its reputation as a unique, diverse friendly and accessible destination, according to Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom.
Hanekom is leading a delegation of provincial and local government tourism marketing authorities, tourism and travel product owners, travel service providers and representatives from South African Tourism to the annual tourism trade expo which runs from Monday, 3 November to Thursday, 7 November.
“We will be promoting the variety of experiences we offer in South Africa, and build on our reputation as a unique, diverse, friendly and accessible destination,’ said Hanekom in a statement.
WTM a platform for doing business
Hanekom said the WTM is one of the premier events where South Africa engages with the global travel trade. He said besides maintaining excitement about South Africa, the tourism trade expo will provide a platform for doing business and growing international tourist arrivals to the country.
“Our tourism sector has a strong base from which we can grow further. Since the advent of democracy 20 years ago, South Africa has recorded truly impressive growth in international tourist arrivals. Our challenge is to do even better. We want to grow the tourism industry in a way that creates more opportunities for all our people and is sustainable well into the future.’
According to latest figures from Statistics South Africa (StatsSA), international arrivals have surged by 300% since 1994 to reach nearly 15-million in 2013. In 2013 alone, South Africa welcomed a total of 9 616 964 tourists, up from the 9 188 368 tourists that visited South Africa in 2012.
South Africa’s international tourist arrivals grew at an annual average growth rate of 7.4% between 2011 and 2013, well above the global average of 4.5% during this period. The country also saw good growth out of Europe, its largest overseas market for tourist arrivals, in 2013. A total of 1 494 978 European tourist arrivals were recorded in 2013, a 7.0% increase on the 1 396 978 European tourists who visited South Africa in 2012.
World Tourism Organization & World Travel Market Ministers’ Summit
Besides doing business and wooing visitors to South Africa, Hanekom will take part in a World Tourism Organization & World Travel Market Ministers’ Summit on Tuesday, 4 November. The summit brings together together tourism ministers and global industry leaders to explore international best practice.
This year’s UNWTO/WTM Ministers’ Summit will take place under the theme “Tourism and Mega-Events: building a lasting legacy’, and will focus on the links between tourism and mega events, looking in particular into the following issues:
- How to measure the impact of mega events on tourism destinations
- How to ensure adequate infrastructure development and planning
- How to translate the hosting of mega events into strong destination brands
- How to promote community engagement and invest in human capita
- How to promote environmentally sustainable events
At the summit, Hanekom will share lessons that South Africa has learnt from hosting mega-events such as the FIFA World Cup, and discuss ways of further leveraging the opportunities presented by business tourism and event-based tourism.
On the evening of the first day of the summit, Hanekom will present the Ubuntu Awards to South Africa’s travel and trade partners who have excelled in selling the destination to UK travellers.
Hankom said the UK is more than just an important market for South Africa. With just under 500 000 arrivals from the UK in 2013, the market remains South Africa’s largest overseas source market. “Our UK trade partners must know that we are in this market to stay and that we will be working even harder and smarter to grow our market share,’ he said.
World Travel Market
The WTM houses 5 000 exhibitors from 186 countries and is one of the largest tourism trade platforms in the world. Annually, the tourism trade expo facilitates some R38-billion in industry deals and creates opportunities for the international travel and tourism trade to negotiate business deals, discuss issues that affect the sector and expand networks.
This year, organisers expect to host over 50 000 product owners, tour operators and travel agencies, airlines, technology providers, government ministers, global industry leaders and international travel media during the course of the four-day event.