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INDABA 2011 set to continue raising the bar for the South African tourism secto

As INDABA 2011, Africa’s biggest travel and tourism show, opened in Durban, South Africa’s warm people and their extraordinary ability to enhance the domestic and international tourist experience took centre stage.

With South Africa’s capability as a global mega event host and world-class business and tourism destination now firmly enhanced, the innate human connection of its citizens and tourism industry is now seen as a key factor to continue to appeal to the discerning international and domestic traveler.

“When we talk about tourism, we often talk about policies, statistics and objectives. Tourism is much more than that. Tourism is about people. The magic ingredient that differentiates tourism from every other economic sector is people. As we gather here tonight to open South Africa’s premier tourism marketing event, tourism is poised to play a greater role than ever before on the global stage and in the lives of South Africans. I stand before you after a phenomenal year for tourism in South Africa, to which every one of you made a significant contribution. International tourism arrivals to South Africa grew by 15.1% in 2010, with the undoubted tourism highlight being our country’s successful hosting of the World Cup. We are ready to turn this new potential into long term, sustainable growth,” said Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk at the INDABA Opening Ceremony, which featured multi-Grammy award winners Ladysmith Black Mambazo and acclaimed actor John Kani, with messages of welcome from Durban mayor Obed Mlaba and Kwazulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize, setting INDABA off on a high, energetic note.

This year the theme for INDABA is  “Playing globally, winning locally”, which encapsulates the ideals of shared and inclusive growth and job creation in the South African tourism sector, to be achieved by establishing a strong international presence in support of becoming a global player.

Minister van Schalkwyk said the recently-announced National Tourism Sector Strategy targets – which aims to increase the number of foreign tourist arrivals to 15 million, the number of domestic trips to 50-million, increase tourism’s contribution to the GDP from an estimated R189.4 billion in 2009 to R499 billion and aim to create 225 000 new tourism jobs by 2020 – was only possible through a collaborative effort by all tourism stakeholders.

“The ball is in our court to take our existing achievements to new heights. We have to take hands to leverage the strength and depth of our industry. We will not be able to achieve our vision for the next decade if we do not embark on this journey together,” he adds.

With nearly 3,000 international hosted buyers and visitors attending INDABA 2011, Minister van Schalkwyk stressed it remained Africa’s most important tourism and business networking gathering, with the thousands of meetings take place expected to generate millions of rands into the tourism economy.  
For South African Tourism, the unique welcoming spirit of South Africa’s people – coupled with its spectacularly diverse tourist attractions – is at the heart of the second phase of its global marketing and advertising campaign “20 Experiences in 10 Days”. The campaign, which launches internationally tonight, is set to showcase the destination to one billion people in over 600 million households in the next financial year on television commercials, print media and online. It features the authentic experiences in South Africa of couples and friends from China, Brazil, Angola and Germany – key core and emerging markets.

“We believe that the best way to describe our country is that nothing about South Africa and her people is ordinary and that it is through our people that the destination experience is enhanced for visitors. The global economic crisis and the way it has fundamentally changed the world’s economic and consumer landscape has necessitated a fresh look at how we continue to attract arrivals in the face of fierce competition from other destinations,” said Ms January-McLean.

“Our key marketing strategy will continue to entrench our work in our core tourism markets, while also paying particular attention to emerging markets which have shown considerable potential, in the Americas, Asia and Africa in particular.  We have got to access the new spending power in emerging destinations and provide the experiences that these consumers are seeking,” Ms January-McLean added.

Additional global SA Tourism campaigns this year include the continuation of the National Geographic Adventurers Wanted campaign, aimed at entrenching South Africa’s leadership as an adventure destination in seven key markets (Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and the UK), as well as a new Sho’t Left Campaign encouraging domestic travel by South Africans.

Some of the innovations at INDABA include a unique multi-touch table surface allowing multiple users to view and engage with South African destination information, video content and social media platforms at the SAT stand, a dedicated INDABA TV channel, as well as exciting new networking platforms and a focus on minimum standards in promoting responsible tourism.

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.