Firms urged to redefine at Africa’s Travel Indaba | The Planner

Fish Mahlalela, Deputy Minister of Tourism, emphasised the need for the African continent to boldly present what it can offer the world during his keynote speech at the Business Opportunity Networking Day (BONDay) of Africa’s Travel Indaba 2024 (ATI). The event, setting the stage for the forthcoming ATI, takes place from today until Thursday at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre (ICC) in Durban.

Seizing the narrative

“It is crucial for us as Africans to unveil to the world our offerings as a continent and to take control of our narrative. Being proactive is the key to steering our destiny,” Mahlalela stated.

ATI showcases a wide variety of Africa’s premier tourism products, drawing African exhibitors, international and local buyers, and media from around the globe.

A time for change

“There is no better time to act than at Africa’s Travel Indaba, occurring during May – also significantly Africa Month. Today, we gather not just as business representatives but as catalysts of change and architects of a future defined by cooperation and collective success,” he added.

Mahlalela highlighted the importance of transformation within the South African economy to ensure the thriving of tourism. “Transformation is essential in South Africa to address the inequality and poverty prevalent in our society,” Mahlalela explained.

Despite challenges, progress is being made with the development of small businesses and the promotion of township tourism.

Innovative ventures and the role of tourism

Following Deputy Minister Mahlalela’s address was a panel discussion featuring leading entrepreneurs. Jerry Mabena, CEO of Motsamayi Tourism Group, discussed building iconic destinations like the Kruger Shalati – The Train on the Bridge and converting Nelson Mandela’s Gauteng residence into a hotel. Mabena also mentioned the group’s new venture, a pop-up hotel in Dinokeng, which operates briefly before being dismantled.

Nombulelo Guliwe, CEO of South African Tourism, emphasised tourism as a job-creation catalyst. “Platforms like Africa’s Travel Indaba are crucial for creating an environment that enables sector participants to access vital information,” Guliwe noted during a discussion on stimulating local economies through the tourism value chain.

Zinhle Mqadi, CEO of Max’s Lifestyle, highlighted collaborations with local service providers to offer a comprehensive township tourism experience beyond a traditional shisanyama visit.

A peek into the future of travel

The event also featured discussions on the future of travel as envisioned by the youth. Young entrepreneurs shared how they turned their passion for travel into successful businesses. Among them, Acacia Denison and Michael Monk of Yeti the Van, who have explored over 100 campsites in South Africa, highlighted the potential for brand collaboration owing to their mobile lifestyle.

Katchie Nzama, a solo traveller who has visited 35 African countries, shared insights into the expansive travelling community and her life as a digital content creator and travel writer.

Lastly, in a discussion titled ‘Airlift Advancements in Africa’, Hamish Erskine, CEO of Dube TradePort, discussed the strategic importance of cargo transport in sustaining growth, while Mpumi Mpofu, CEO of Airports Company South Africa, spoke on the crucial role of robust intra-African travel networks for continental growth.

Africa’s Travel Indaba 2024 not only showcases the continent’s rich tourism offerings but also illuminates the critical role of innovation and collaboration in shaping the future of tourism in Africa. As Deputy Minister Mahlalela and other industry leaders highlighted, seizing the narrative and driving transformation are imperative for Africa to harness its full potential and redefine its position on the global stage.