New worlds at your doorstep

It pays to showcase at tourism trade shows, writes Enver Duminy

Enver_WTM_copy.jpg

Finding out about incredible destinations and experiences is a process. A traveller can spend many happy hours exploring online, or take advantage of tourism professionals who work towards showcasing what’s on offer. The mammoth task of organising tourism trade shows such as World Travel Market Africa and Indaba is worthwhile, since it brings so many tourism opportunities to us, allowing tour operators and others to boost what they have on offer.

WTM Africa, for example, brings together 7 500 attendees, showcasing the inbound and outbound travel markets from over 45 countries. The focus is placed on highlighting regional products and services to a global audience, particularly focusing on African businesses.

Besides talks and panel discussions by industry leaders, attendees get access to unique business opportunities and contacts from around the world through pre-scheduled appointments and on-site networking. This is all part of the process that results in marketing tour packages and opportunities to showcase destinations. For South Africa and the continent, it’s marketing gold.

There are business developments going on, trade partnerships, multi-national governmental liaisons, formative collaborations and idea sharing, but there’s also the chance for tourism professionals to refine what’s on offer. When common challenges exist, they can be addressed through panel discussions and workshops. If technology is causing the industry to evolve the ways in which it does business, there’s no better way to find out about this than from the horse’s mouth – directly from the source of those developing the technology and rolling it out.

Besides the professional activities that take place at trade shows, delegates take the opportunity to explore while attending, enjoying the many experiences and activities that are on offer, engaging in a little tourism of their own.

Development goals and the role of trade shows

Landmark events such as trade shows provide the space for leaders in the sector to reveal forecasts for growth, laying down a line of expectation that challenges the industry, but one that also gets industry pofessionals questioning how to attain such growth, and subsequently producing strategies to facilitate this.

Derek Hanekom, Minister of Tourism in SA stated recently that the country is intent on speeding up visa processes to attract major conferences in an effort to boost foreign arrivals with 40 percent by 2021. There’s a goal and a solution in one.

Bear in mind that the country’s economy isn’t entirely stable, and this may contribute to fewer people choosing to travel (or, potentially, causing them to travel closer to home). In addition, 27 percent unemployment as at March 2018 further inhibits this kind of growth from taking place.

The World Travel and Tourism Council has stated that tourism will contribute around 424.5 billion rand to the overall South African economy in 2018, before rising by 3.5 percent a year to 598.6 billion or 10.1 percent of GDP in 2028. That’s an astounding figure, although with all that’s on offer to potential visitors, it may be achievable.

Quick stats:

  • Total contribution of tourism to employment in SA: 1.5 million jobs (2016)
  • Percentage of South Africans employed in tourism: 9.8 percent
  • Tourism capital investment, 2016: R 68.9bn
  • Projected growth in tourism capital investment by 2027: up to R 102.5bn
  • Leisure travel: 66 percent of all travel
  • Business travel: 33 percent of all travel
  • Business travel spending is expected to increase by 2.6 percent per year to R123.6bn in 2027.
  • Domestic travel spend, 2016: 54 percent of direct travel and tourism GDP
  • Foreign visitor spend, 2016: 46 percent of direct travel and tourism GDP

These figures sound virtually meaningless to your average SME operator in tourism, after all, they’re busy making sure they have something to balance in their books. For SMEs in tourism, the playing field is a rocky one, especially since the tourism market, and respective growth, are not guaranteed.

The bigger picture is that it’s become more commonplace for tourism operators, as well as public and private enterprise, to collaborate. This is highlighted through issues such as the current water shortage, where it was realised early on that to try and address the problem in isolation wasn’t a feasible option, and that coming together with a common goal allowed many stakeholders to be represented and to share ideas - ideas that have had a tangible impact in limiting the damage caused by the drought.

We’ve always maintained that sustainable tourism must be our common goal, and this particular crisis has proven this to be the case. Leadership in a time like this is not easy, but it’s resulted in a united effort that puts aside competitive behaviour. That’s unusual for any sector.

The goal, for us, is to see sustainable tourism woven into our industry narrative, so that we can concentrate on what we do best: showcase a destination that has it all – wild, beautiful nature, sophisticated cities with bustling cultural experiences and the many worlds that make up Cape Town and South Africa.

Trade shows such as WTM Africa and Indaba bring us back to a place where we can remind ourselves that we’re ideally placed to welcome local, regional and international visitors to present our offerings to them across a variety of platforms that appeal to their preferences.

There’s a lot of work that goes into being able to showcase a city or an experience, but the results are rewarding.

Enver Duminy, CEO - Cape Town Tourism

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