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    Date shift impacts on Africa’s Travel Indaba
    May 6, 2019, 10:05 am

    Indaba was shifted one week earlier due to May 8 election

    “This industry must be positioned as a key empowering sector of the economy whose
    power we should unleash and use to change the lives of people in our urban and rural
    areas,” Ramaphosa noted [PREUSS]

    Many delegates said that although this year’s Indaba was quieter than previous years due to the date shift from the traditional second week of May, they also said that they had a better Indaba as they could engage for longer with their partners.

    “Let’s work together to replace the sometimes negative narrative of Africa with the real story of so many nations on the move, of people innovating and moving confidently into the future.

    Let’s ensure that tourism makes a positive and meaningful contribution to the lives of all the people of Africa,” South African Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom said in his opening speech.

    He noted that 2018 had been a good growth year for African tourism and he urged the delegates to build on that growth.

    In 2018 Africa attracted 67 million international tourist arrivals, a growth of 7 per cent on 2017, comfortably ahead of the world average growth of 6 per cent, but South Africa lagged this growth with only a 1.8 per cent rise.

    Although the number of exhibitors eased to 1,023 in 2019 from 1,093 in 2018, the number of exhibitors from 19 other African countries rose to 257 from 229. There was also a large increase in the number of approved buyers to 1,828 from 1,417 as buyers aimed at giving their customers a wider choice of tourist offerings.

    Hanekom highlighted that the United Nations World Tourism Organisation predicted that 1.8 billion people will be travelling globally by 2030, and that Africa will increase its share from to 7 per cent from 5 per cent of all global arrivals.

    “This would be 126 million arrivals; almost double the number we have now,” Hanekom said.

    South Africa has a target of doubling its tourist arrivals to 21 million within five years.

    To meet this target, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in his address to the Indaba said the tourism industry needed to address ten challenges.

    The first was easier visa access and in that respect the government is piloting an evisa system in New Zealand.

    “As South Africa, we are committed to working towards the African Union’s goal of visa free travel and a single African air transport market. We are in the process of radically overhauling our visa dispensation for the rest of the world and introducing a world class e-visa system,” he noted.

    The second challenge was the perception of crime, which was especially prevalent amongst Chinese tourists and this factor had been highlighted in interactions between South Africa and its BRICS partner governments.

    “Initiatives like the Kenya Tourism Federation Safety and Communication Centre, the Tourism Police in Uganda and our own tourism safety monitors in South Africa are examples of measures that can be undertaken,” Ramaphosa said.

    The third challenge was to get governments to promote domestic tourism.
    The fourth challenge was to forge stronger public-private partnerships in the tourism industry.

    The fifth challenge was to coordinate government agencies to work with each other so that there was a concerted national effort to promote tourism.
    The sixth challenge was to make sure that the physical infrastructure was in place to deliver a world class experience whether that was roads, access to the Internet and hospitals.

    The seventh challenge was to empower women and youth in the tourism industry.

    “This industry must be positioned as a key empowering sector of the economy whose power we should unleash and use to change the lives of people in our urban and rural areas,” Ramaphosa noted.

    The eighth challenge was to brand Africa as a continent of success.

    The ninth challenge was to embrace technology.

    “Artificial intelligence, blockchain and the internet of things requires that our tourism offerings must be well aligned with enveloping technologies. Let’s get ready for the brave new world that is coming,” he added.

    The tenth challenge was to benchmark the tourism industry to international standards to enhance the competitiveness and the quality of our domestic tourism industry.

    “This Indaba, with all that it offers, is a testimony to the fact that Africa is a continent of innovation with a strong focus on the future. We are a continent that is open and welcoming. When it comes to tourism and many other areas of human endeavour we are a continent on the move,” he concluded.

    Helmo Preuss in Durban, South Africa for The BRICS Post

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