Travel and tourism boosts Africa's economy

Africa’s Travel Indaba is a big tourism driver for Durban and the Kwazulu-Natal province

Africa’s Travel Indaba is a big tourism driver for Durban and the Kwazulu-Natal province

The travel and tourism sector is playing a major role in boosting employment and economic growth in Africa.

As it stands, the impact of the tourism sector on Africa’s economic and social development is already significant, and it still has room to grow in relation to world averages.

Trade shows and exhibitions play a key role in this growth, as Africa’s Travel Indaba has proven. Its very real measurable economic impact injects about $15-million into the economy.

“Africa’s Travel Indaba has layers of economic impact, from the local impact on the eThekwini [municipality] and Durban, to the provincial, country and continental impact from the meetings, engagements and events held in just three short days,” says Sisa Ntshona, chief executive of South African Tourism.

“The most important aim of any trade show is for trade to happen. Our measure of this is to track the number of meetings made and then confirm on the ‘matchmaker platform’, which pairs interested buyers with relevant tourism products at the show,” he explains.

In 2017, Africa’s Travel Indaba saw a 30% increase in meetings. 

“Meetings may take time to translate into actual bookings, but we are seeing positive and optimistic signs that African tourism is at the beginning of a new growth curve,” he says.

He adds that despite the show being very well established, interest has not waned; rather, the opposite is true.

“African tourism offerings are becoming more and more desirable, and destination Africa is a hot prospect.”

The future success of tourism as an economic driver in African countries depends on the presence of policies and strategies for trade and investment that meet the needs of the sector and an overall business environment that is conducive to growth, he adds.

“It depends too on the abilities of all players from across the continent to meet, engage and support initiatives, and the three-day travel indaba is one of the key places to start that conversation,” says Ntshona.

Tourism authorities from 19 African countries have already confirmed their attendance for the 2018 Africa’s Travel Indaba and will showcase their countries’ tourism offerings.

Africa’s Travel Indaba will take place from May 8-10 2018 at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre, in Durban. The Municipality of eThekwini won the bid in 2017 to host this premier trade show for next five years.  The show is prestigious for the city as a flagship annual event, and as a tourism driver for Durban and the Kwazulu-Natal province.