Africa’s Travel Indaba 2022 was a boon for the continent’s tourism sector as well as the host city of Durban, province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). This is as hundreds of buyers and exhibitors from 55 countries descended on Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (ICC) from 2-5 May, to trade on the continent’s best tourism products and experiences.  Of the 55 countries, 19 were from the African continent, including South Africa.

Acting CEO of South African Tourism, Themba Khumalo said that owning Africa’s narrative meant that Africans could transform the continent’s story from one of people looking for succour to one that showed its present-day entrepreneurial spirit.

“We are a continent full of people with initiative. We have the energy and passion to revive an entire industry, such as tourism, with our own hands. Our story says to the world that we are ready to welcome them and we are open for business.”

The three-day travel showpiece that attracted 3700 delegates and hosted 14 000 successful meetings has been described as a “great show, in exciting times and successful.”

Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, Chief Convention Bureau Officer at South African Tourism, said the 2022 Travel Indaba attracted 655 exhibitors and 955 buyers from various countries.

She said the sheer size of Africa’s Travel Indaba, although below the 2019 numbers, “shows the resilience of our sector and our people.”

She added: “Although the numbers were lower than the pre-Covid 19 times, each buyer still had 10 meetings a day on average.”

According to Durban’s Deputy Head of Tourism, Winile Mntungwa, the City of Durban experienced hotel occupancy rates of over 85 percent, netted R29 million in direct spending and expects a contribution of R72.5 million to the City’s GDP. Mntungwa confirmed that I45 short term jobs were created during the period.

She said the show instilled confidence in the City of Durban as a great destination and fantastic host.

“Being physically there in a destination gives you a true picture and accurate assessment of the state of readiness to take on tourists again after the triple pandemics – July unrest, Covid-19 and recent floods,” she said.

“All doubts about the city’s preparedness to yet again offer its exciting tourism products have been removed through hosting this travel extravaganza,” she said.

Phindile Makwakwa, the acting CEO of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, said the 2022 edition of Travel Indaba had an “air of exciting event, real connection, love and passion.”

Makwakwa decried the impact of Covid-19 on tourism as something that hit hard at the heart of human connection. “It was good to host in person again,” she added.

Lindiwe Rakharebe Durban ICC CEO, the host venue of Africa’s Travel Indaba, said that even though the convention centre was affected by flooding recently, they worked around the clock to get it ready for the most prestigious travel show on the African continent and the third must-see in the world.

“The 2022 Africa’s Travel Indaba was an incredible show. We pulled it off against all the odds,” said Rakharebe.

For the first time at the show, the Africa’s Travel Indaba Awards was held to honour those tourism businesses and organisations that have advanced tourism during a time of unprecedented technological and industry change.

“Africa’s Travel Indaba is about the spirit, the meetings and how we are treating our exhibitors, each other and other buyers. It is about us as Africa rising; us as Africa coming together to show the world all of our wares that we have,”concluded Kotze-Nhlapo adding that the awards were meant to capture the spirit of the industry, which is built on warm relationships.

The winners were as follows

  • Transformation Award: Andrew Machete for Timeline Travel
  • Innovation Award: Western Cape Pavilion
  • Rise Award: KZN Freedom Routes
  • Empowerment Award: Pearl Motaung-Mlangeni of My Pond Hotel’s Hospitality Management Training Institution
  • Inspiration Award: Clinton Armour, CEO ANEW Hotels & Resorts
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