South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, addressed INDABA attendees at the opening ceremony. // © 2010 Janeen Christoff
Despite the fact that soccer is not the U.S. national sport, the eyes of the world, including those of many Americans, will be fixed on South Africa from June 11 to July 11, during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. While South Africa has made it clear that it is ready to welcome the world, the theme at this year’s INDABA travel trade show in Durban, South Africa, focused on what lies beyond 2010.
South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, who spoke at the opening ceremony for this year’s INDABA, referred to South Africa as a major tourism destination.
“If you miss South Africa,” said Zuma, “you miss a significant part of the world.”
While the World Cup remained a hot topic, a majority of emphasis was given to the amount of infrastructure the country had developed in preparation for the event and the lasting effect this development will have on the country.
“The upgrades to our facilities and to our infrastructure will remain long after the World Cup,” said Zuma.
At the opening ceremony, Thandiwe January-Mclean, CEO of South African Tourism (SAT) told attendees, “It is after the World Cup that holds the most promise for us.”
This year’s INDABA attracted more than 13,000 attendees but, according to Roshene Singh, CMO of SAT, the numbers aren’t as important as the business that was being conducted.
“The FIFA World Cup is a gift in the lap of South Africa’s tourism industry,” said Singh. “Here at the show, it is all about business beyond INDABA and beyond the World Cup. We are going to milk the World Cup for everything it is worth, but there is a subtle shift in the marketing.”
She also noted that South Africa has a strategically planned marketing campaign that has been refined to be more effective in driving visitors to South Africa after the games.
“With so much investment in infrastructure, it means that our cities are spruced up and well-packaged,” said Singh. “This means we have a better product to sell.”
And who will be buying? According to Singh, U.S. visitor numbers were down 8.5 percent in 2009. However, South Africa focused heavily on association meetings rather than corporate meetings and incentives and was able to weather the storm last year. In Singh’s opinion, the leisure market will improve as the economy improves.
And when the leisure market does improve, a bevy of experiences await visitors. SAT is focused on marketing more than just the safari experience in the country. In addition to culture, food and wine and lifestyle experiences, the country is also emphasizing green travel.
“South Africa is well-positioned in this market because there are large areas of preserved land,” said Singh.
And, with the World Cup just a few days away, a predicted 10 million visitors are waiting in the wings to discover this new South Africa.
South African Tourism