Indaba’s opening cermony included performances. // © 2016 Reg Caldecott
Feature image (above): Durban was the host of this year’s Indaba conference. // © 2016 Durban Tourism
The second largest city in South Africa and this year’s host for the 22nd annual Commonwealth Games, Durban has also proven itself a fitting venue for Indaba, one of Africa’s most anticipated annual travel trade shows. It was held this year from May 7-9 at Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.
For the second year, South Africa’s Minister of Tourism, the honorable Derek Hanekom, was among those giving an opening address.
“Some of the challenges we experienced in South Africa last year resulted in dwindling tourism numbers,” Hanekom said. “That is now behind us, and we are experiencing spectacular growth in our tourist arrivals.”
Hanekom says that international tourist arrivals to South Africa are estimated to grow by 4 percent this year, and arrivals in Africa are expected to reach 130 million by 2030, citing the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
While the theme of this year’s edition of Indaba was “putting you at the forefront of business success,” the show also introduced the new Hidden Gems Zone, which spotlighted 70 South African Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs).
Gauteng Tourism, representing the smallest of South Africa’s nine provinces, supplied several SMMEs, such as Tshuku Tours. Mpho Mache, founder of Tshuku Tours, says his mission is to get more people to visit Gauteng and learn about South Africa’s townships, as well as experience Gauteng’s Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Umlazi, another South African township, launched an initiative to experience urban culture through its vibrant political and historical heritage.
The promotion of ecotourism was also visible at this year’s Indaba, with a special spotlight on the Magaliesberg Biosphere reserve, one of eight official South African biospheres that was designated a UNESCO-protected area in 2015. By offering rare insights into the earth’s history and the evolution of humankind, Magaliesberg Biosphere is poised to attract travelers who are especially interested in South Africa’s geology and biodiversity.
Tour operators came to Indaba with plenty of news of their own, as well. Springbok Atlas Tours & Safaris celebrates its 70th anniversary this year as one South Africa’s premier inbound tour operators. At Indaba, it announced an addition to its Garden Route itinerary between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth: one night in the charming enclave of Prince Albert in the foothills of the Swartberg Mountains. Meanwhile, Out & About Africa, which manages the Garden Route’s Oystercatcher Trail, now features three levels of pricing options for luxury guided walks connecting Mossel Bay and the Gourits River mouth, all of which offer historical insights into the pristine environment.
From the promotion of townships to biospheres to guided tours, it was clear at Indaba 2016 that South Africa only has more to offer — and discover — each year, a sentiment echoed by Hanekom.
“As tourism succeeds, the continent succeeds, and millions of people benefit from this success,” he said. “Tourism in South Africa — and in Africa — is on the brink of a new success story.”