The significance of Africa’s Travel Indaba to economic and social development

There are many stories to be told regarding Africa’s tourism industry. The upcoming Africa’s Travel Indaba is the most suitable platform for all stakeholders to connect, and most importantly to showcase the broadest variety of Africa’s quality tourism products, while simultaneously empowering small businesses and attracting international buyers and media from across the world.

“Africa’s tourism sector has experienced persistent growth and deepening diversification, to ultimately become one of the growing economic sectors in the world. As it stands, the impact of this sector on Africa’s economic and social development is enormous, taking into consideration its encouraging effects on businesses, trade, job creation and the protection of heritage and cultural values across the continent,” says Sisa Ntshona, chief executive of South African Tourism.

Africa’s Travel Indaba will take place from May 8-10 2018 at Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre. The trade show is part of South African Tourism’s efforts to grow the travel industry in the continent through connecting people and unleashing potential. It ensures that the expansion of the industry across the continent continues to grow and transforms the industry into a key driver for socioeconomic progress.

EThekwini will host this premier trade show for next five years. Hosting Africa’s Travel Indaba has a positive impact on the city, as it injects about $15-million into the economy. EThekwini municipality gets a boost in tourism and temporary and full-time employment is created in various sectors.

Africa’s Travel Indaba is one of the largest tourism marketing events on the African calendar and one of the top three “must visit” events of its kind on the global calendar; more than 7 000 delegates from around the world are expected. This year 135 small businesses or Hidden Gems were selected from around South Africa to be exhibitors at the trade show. This is aimed at broadening the variety of tourism products on the market while upskilling and empowering black-owned small enterprises operating in this sphere.

“It’s crucial for the health and evolution of our sector that we help to incubate start-ups and small businesses, especially those that add new, authentic flavours to our country’s tourism platter. Our Hidden Gems pavilion has been met with much enthusiasm and interest, and we can’t wait to see how these innovative tourism ‘jewels’ shine on the trade floor,” says Ntshona.

The tourism sector directly contributed 2.9% to South African gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016, according to the latest release of Statistics South Africa’s annual Tourism Satellite Account for South Africa report.

Despite the challenges that tourism has endured over the last few years, it outperformed other key industries in terms of job creation, adding just over 40 000 new jobs to the economy over the five-year period from 2012 to 2016. The tourism sector’s 686 596 employees outnumber the respective workforces of utilities (118 000 employees) and mining (444 000 employees) together. In 2016 total employment in South Africa (both formal and informal) amounted to 15.8 million workers; of these, 4.4% (or 1 in every 23) were directly employed in the tourism sector.

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