SOUTH AFRICAN TOURISM had a strong presence at the Houston Travel Marketing Services, Spotlight on East Africa Workshops that took place in Uganda and Kenya respectively. Led by the Regional Director for Africa, Ms Evelyn Mahlaba, the organisation met with the local travel trade and media to share South Africa’s successes and reveal marketing plans for East Africa in general, and Uganda and Kenya in particular.
It is the first time SA Tourism participated in the workshops which were also visited by a bevy of South African tourism product owners and others from the rest of the continent, showcasing their products to the local travel trade in Uganda and Kenya.
SA Tourism as the owners of two of Africa’s biggest trade shows, INDABA (mainly focused on leisure tourism offerings) and Meetings Africa (for the business events sector), are intent on supporting similar trade shows and tourism initiatives elsewhere on the continent. SA Tourism will not only participate to show solidarity and support to the local tradeshow organisers and the tourism industry, but will also share valuable research insights with participating product and to help them understand the market better.
“SA Tourism has been successful in marketing South Africa to countries on the rest of continent. Growth from East Africa, and in particular Uganda and Kenya has seen a steady incline in recent years with the most recent arrivals indicating that in 2013, 35 6015 and 17 182 tourists visited South Africa from Kenya and Uganda, representing a year on year growth of 7.9 percent and 10.7 percent for each market respectively,” explains Miss Mahlaba.
However, she says, “the true growth and potential of our tourism sector can only be realised if the same growth is happening in countries on the rest of the continent. For South Africa to grow and reach its potential, all of Africa must grow, because we are in Africa.”
SA Tourism continues to be determined in its desire to driving continental collaboration in a bid to grow Africa’s tourism sector. This has been evidenced through the staging of two of Africa’s largest and most revered travel trade show, INDABA and Meetings Africa. The two trade shows are aimed at showing the best African product and tourism offerings to global and other continental trade members and buyers.
The organisation has also played host to many media and key influencers to attend events, the most recent being the recent INDABA opening ceremony in May where the headline act was Kenyan Afro-Pop and Africa’s current favourite music sensation, Sauti Sol.
However for SA Tourism it extends to beyond just creating platforms. Supporting counterpart destinations in Africa by participating in their tradeshows and other projects is critical. As equally important, is sharing market insights that have been gathered through research by SA Tourism. SA Tourism is intent on doing both.
“Our participation at the Spotlight on East Africa workshops, and all the other tradeshows we are preparing to take part in this year, is an outward show of investment and support for the continent’s travel and tourism industry,” explains Mahlaba.
“South Africa has had its fair share of challenges that have negatively affected our reputation as people but also as a holiday destination thus making our job in particular rather strenuous. However, through it all, we have been humbled by the support of our counterparts who have continued to take part in our trade shows and tourists who have continued to visit our country,” says Mahlaba.
“We want to reciprocate because this is about true and lasting partnerships. So what better way than to participate in the revered and strategically important Houston Marketing Spotlight on East Africa Workshop?” she asks.
This being her first official visit to Kenya and Uganda since taking on the reigns last year, Ms Mahlaba will also use this time to connect with South African trade products in attendance, and also meet with media, members of the local destination marketing counterparts and the other key tourism stakeholders.
During the workshops, Ms Mahlaba will take the trade through the latest research and consumer insights and highlight their role as trade in ensuring that the destination’s brand promise is delivered on. Also in attendance, will be the local trade in market tasked with marketing South Africa as leisure destination.
The information presented will empower both groups to package and market their offering more effectively as they will understand the needs and concerns of the tourist better. It will also allow for them to be confident in addressing the tricky questions potential visitors may have about traveling to South Africa.
“We are delighted to share these insights as we want tourism on the continent to achieve its maximum potential. We don’t claim that this is the blueprint but we would be honoured to share our experiences and start discussions that will, in time, allow for mutual collaboration and information sharing to be the norm. It is after all for the good of our respective tourism industries,” concludes Mahlaba.