Skip to main content

Africa’s Travel Indaba 2023 has been held in Durban. Traveltalk’s JENNY EVANS reports from this international event which tells a story of rapid recovery.

The three-day travel showpiece proved to be a resounding success, attracting more than 6,000 delegates, 1,000 attendees from 21 African countries and 1,000 buyers from 63 countries around the globe.

Traveltalk was invited to attend the event, the third most important travel show of its kind in the world. It was staged at the International Convention Centre in Durban.

The theme of this year’s event was ‘Unlimited Africa’, which speaks directly to the continent’s uncapped potential. The African continent is open for the world to explore, connect and grow.

In her keynote speech at the opening of the event, Patricia de Lille, South Africa’s Tourism Minister, stated that Africa’s Travel Indaba offers an opportunity to “honour the African people’s incredible ingenuity, fortitude, and magnificence.” Minister de Lille spoke passionately on the importance of the industry, highlighting the need “for collaboration and innovation to drive growth in the sector.”

Among those present were 160 first time exhibitors as well as 123 small inbound tourism enterprises who were able to attend due to the Department of Tourism’s Market Access Support Programme. The programme aims to address the cost barriers associated with exhibition and roadshow participation for small businesses by offering partial financial support to qualifying enterprises to participate at selected international and local tourism trade shows.

Quarter 1 tourism statistics were announced for January to March 2023. The statistics revealed an impressive 2.1 million visitors, a 102.5% increase compared to the same period in 2022, reflecting South Africa’s attractiveness to international visitors. In the presentation on day two, Minister de Lille boasted that as the world reawakens, “tourists are flocking back to South Africa, enticed by our unparalleled natural beauty and the warmth of our people.” She added: “We are broadcasting a clear message: South Africa is open for tourism, welcoming business, and eagerly awaiting travellers from across Africa and the globe. Working together with all stakeholders, we aim to boost tourism’s contribution to the economy and job creation.”

The show provided buyers from Australia, New Zealand and the world a chance to meet and reconnect with contacts in the industry and to add new experiences to offer guests to Africa. Over the course of the event, more than 750 meetings took place between ANZ representatives and key property and tour operator exhibitors, allowing valuable networking opportunities and fruitful collaborations to flourish.

Tanya Gurtin, from Viva Expeditions, New Zealand summarised her Indaba experience; “we are expanding our portfolio with some new and amazing products now including Africa, I was able to meet face to face with suppliers and build on relationships to continue to improve my network. The buzz and energy of this show, open to the whole world for the first time since COVID was electric. I will be back next year.”


SA Tourism Minister faces off to Richard Quest of CNN.

In a scintillating discussion, Quest questioned Minister de Lille on her decision to accept the position of Tourism Minister, a role she has occupied for just two months. He deemed the role to be a “poisoned chalice.” De Lille retorted that she had seen a chance to “clean up. I am like the proverbial new broom that sweeps clean”, referring to her propensity to ensure effective and clean governance. In her first two months in charge, the Minister has cancelled a R1 billion (approx. $AU77million) sponsorship deal between South Africa and English football team Tottenham Hotspur, which she deemed “unlawful and invalid”, and appointed a new board of South Africa Tourism.

One of Ms de Lille’s key priorities is to focus on harmonising visa regimes. Simplifying the application process is vital for unlocking Africa’s tourism potential. “South Africa is leading the way with visa waivers for several African countries and the rollout of an e-visa system to countries like Kenya, Nigeria and Egypt.” She promised to help expand the e-visa system to 20 more countries making Africa a more attractive destination for international travellers.

Richard and the minister also discussed the challenge of African countries working together to improve Africa wide air transportation and promised to meet again next year to measure her progress.

How well do you know South Africa?

Test your knowledge of South Africa with this quick five question quiz.

[tqb_quiz id=’19647′]