Africa is the next tourism frontier and SA needs to cash in

Sisa Ntshona, CEO of South African Tourism

Africa is on track to become the next tourism frontier, South African Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona said, speaking ahead of the launch of Indaba 2017, a travel show which will bring more than 7,000 delegates from around the word. The continent as a whole reported an 8% surge in international arrivals in 2016, with Sub-Saharan Africa increasing 11% and SA by an impressive 13%.

The local tourism sector seems buoyant again after a few years of uncertainly, largely due to the new visa regime which placed onerous requirements on travellers. Figures released by Statistics SA this week show that overseas tourist numbers to the country rose 14% to 245,074 in January 2017 compared with January 2016. Tourism contributes about 9% to SA’s GDP.

“Last year, we broke records to reach 10-million international tourists coming to SA,” said Ntshona. “These figures far exceed the global increase in international arrivals of 3.9% overall. So Africa is definitely the happening place to be, with vast untapped tourism potential that could [boost] the greater African economy and contribute its prosperity.”

Ntshona said that tourism has the potential to be the new “gold” that could steer African economies to new heights — and boost the continent’s share of global tourism significantly beyond its current 5% level.

It is essential for Africa’s travel industry to broker partnerships and collaborations for mutual benefit, working together to achieve inclusive economic growth in the tourism sector, said Ntshona. “We want to get the message across that Africa’s tourism industry is open for business and ripe with possibility. Our continent is a value-for-money destination offering multiple, incredible experiences that will take your breath away, from high-end luxury to bush-whacking fun.”

Indaba 2017 will take place at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban from May 16 to 18. In addition to the contingent of South African exhibitors in attendance, countries such as Angola, Botswana, the DRC, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Reunion, the Seychelles, Senegal, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe will be displaying their tourism-related products and services. They will be joined by international travel buyers, visitors and media.

Phillip Sithole, the head of Durban Tourism said: “The show’s focus on promoting African travel has been very rewarding for the city of Durban, in particular to enable our product-owners to do business with some of the top travel brands in Africa and deepen the relationships with hosted buyers from Africa and around the world.”