South Africa plans to increase its international tourists by five million in the next five years for the sector to contribute significantly to the country’s GDP.
The country recorded a record-breaking 10 million international tourists in 2016 but its contribution to the economy stands at about 3% and Tourism SA CEO Sisa Ntshona said this needs to change.
“The continent as a whole reported an 8% surge in international arrivals in 2016, with Sub-Saharan Africa increasing by 11% and South Africa by a massive 13%. These figures far exceed the global increase in international arrivals of 3.9% overall. So Africa is definitely the happening place to be, with vast untapped tourism potential that could buoy the greater African economy and contribute to its prosperity,” he said this at the launch of Tourism Indaba 2017 to be hosted in Durban in May.
Ntshona said their role is to get the message to the world that Africa’s tourism industry is open for business and ripe with possibility.
“Our continent is a value-for-money destination offering multiple incredible experiences that will take your breath away, from high-end luxury to bush-whacking fun,” Ntshona said.
On Tourism Indaba 2017, Ntshona said they expect 7 000 delegates from around the world to meet in Durban to grow the African tourism economy through constructive conversations and dynamic partnerships.
About 90 small tourism businesses would be hosted at the show to “be given valuable exposure as well as an exposure to pitch their offerings.”– emerging and existing enterprises that are at least 50% black-owned,” Ntshona said.
“They are drawn from each of South Africa’s nine provinces and we call them our Hidden Gems, because they are tucked-away treasures that only a select few know about.”
Thanks to a partnership between South African Tourism, the National Department of Tourism and the Southern African Tourism Services Association, these entrepreneurs will be given valuable exposure at INDABA as well as the opportunity to “pitch” their offerings to travel buyers during speed marketing sessions.
The Indaba, dubbed “Africa’s Top Travel” show is expected to attract exhibitors from about 15 African countries.
Head of Durban Tourism and Acting Deputy City Manager of eThekwini Philip Sithole said despite the highly competitive tourism environment, Indaba has been able to maintain its position as the premier travel show on the African continent.