Why SA is a good place to be for tourists

From a Hermanus whale crier to a Mpumalanga guesthouse, local travel exhibitors yesterday pulled all the stops at a packed Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (ICC) in Durban, to woo tourists attending the prestigious threeday Africa Travel Indaba.

One of the largest tourism marketing events on the African calendar, the gathering is showcasing the widest variety of the continent’s best tourism products, attracting international buyers and media from across the globe.

ALSO READ: Africa Travel Indaba unlocks tourism opportunities in Durban

The indaba – which ends today – has seen a convergence of 1 261 exhibitors and 26 African countries represented, and over 1 000 buyers from 55 countries, with host city Durban raking in millions in tourism spend.

So creative were the exhibitors that Sive Mbizo from Hermanus, Western Cape, became a centre of attraction when he turned up blowing a horn, clad in a black cowboy hat, a stylish apron, inscribed with the words: “Whale Crier of Hermanus. Welcome to the best land-based WHALE watching in the World!”

He said: “People here know Cape Town, but they don’t know Hermanus. Through marketing the whale crier brand, but also Hermanus as a holiday destination. A whale crier is someone walking along our coastal town – surveying 12 kilometres of coastal beauty, with the hope of spotting a whale. Immediately he sees a whale, he blows his magical wand – the horn.

“When visitors hear that sound, they know there is a whale sighting nearby, (they) come and enjoy the sight of the big animal. The closest they can be is 10 metres from the majestic sea features.”

Mbizo said people did not know Hermanus existed.

“When you speak about Cape Town, they have never been to the Cape coast, of which Hermanus forms part – a beautiful and scenic part of the Western Cape, rural, peri-urban and upper-class part of South Africa,” he added.

Lerato Serobatse and Nombuso Chiliza were exhibiting a boutique hotel Unique Rose in Middleburg – offering accommodation, conferencing and catering.

“We have 70 bedrooms, three conference rooms – doing events like weddings and parties. The indaba has exposed us to quite a lot of people and travel tours,” said Serobatse.

ALSO READ: Tourism: We have learned that local is lekker

“We met people from Kenya and Uganda – making it possible to attract clients from other African countries, responsible for their tour of the country and hosting them in Middleburg.”

Limpopo’s Monica Rachidi of The Shamrock Hospitality, said the indaba made it possible for her to engage with industry role-players, tour guides and travel agencies.

“Operating in the SMME (small, medium and micro enterprises) sector, we are looking at partnerships – having managed to set up a few meetings,” said Rachidi.

Speaking earlier on the sidelines of the indaba, during the SA National Parks (SANParks) event to mark 30 years of sustainable eco-tourism and business growth through partnerships, SANParks board chair Pam Yako said: “Our strategy focuses us on selected commercial ventures in which we partner with the private sector on the basis of an appropriate regulatory framework, that is designed to mitigate impacts on biodiversity, while ensuring that a risk-free return on conservation assets can be leveraged.”

She said a global tourism revenue has the potential to contribute meaningfully to the funding the protection of biodiversity.

“SANParks has progressively increased the number of PPPs (public, private, partnerships) transactions covering a wide range of projects, including accommodation, restaurants, retail, activities, an airport and the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway.

“SANParks now has a portfolio of 63 PPP projects,” Yako said.

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