By: Zahid Jadwat
Africa’s best travel and tourism show has kicked off in the coastal city of eThekwini with high expectations against the backdrop of a battered tourism sector and a struggling economy at large.
Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu officially launched the event at the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC) on Tuesday, where she welcomed delegates from more than 55 countries and exhibitors from across the African continent. She emphasised the importance of sustainable tourism in the midst of climate change.
“We must be cognisant that we are experiencing warning signs of climate change, therefore our sector must be part of the united global response to the challenge of reducing carbon emissions,” she said.
“Africa’s Travel Indaba is back with renewed energy and focus. This is the continent’s leading travel trade show and foremost business platform, geared at reconnecting the tourism sector in person while networking and doing business which will contribute to the recovery of our sector on the continent.”
KwaZulu-Natal has been severely impacted by the effects of climate change, with scientists partly attributing the recent floods that killed more than 400 people and destroyed infrastructure to climate change. The local economy has also been battered by the COVID-19 lockdown and the July 2021 insurrection.
“The theme for Africa’s Travel Indaba is ‘Africa’s Stories, Your Success’. When we start telling our own story as a continent, we embark on the journey of changing the narrative about Africa,” she said.
Speaking in an interview on Radio Islam, Dr Unathi Sonwabile Henama, a tourism academic at the Tshwane University of Technology, said: “The meeting is very important because it is the third largest meeting in the world and this meeting is not just about South Africa. It is where Africa is providing the whole world [an opportunity] to gaze on the various products that it has to offer
“We are speaking to people who are buyers. A buyer would come from Europe, possibly representing an association or an organisation that is looking for potential venues where they can have a conference,” he said.
Henama went on to explain that the conference would have a positive impact on the local economy.
Listen to the full interview here: