He was referring to the 1 747 buyers from all over the world, 1 120 exhibitors showcasing a range and diversity of products from the continent, and no less than 22 African countries and 80 countries globally represented at this year’s travel trade show.
“The African continent is one of warmth and diversity. We are one as humanity and we will express it on the continent,” he told the audience of delegates, media, exhibitors, buyers and visitors who crowded into the South Foyer of the Durban ICC to witness the traditional ringing of the bell that signalled the opening of the trade floor.
While only five percent of global travel is to Africa, this is an opportunity to grow, the Minister said. “Buyers – you are in a place of growth and opportunity. Do business but also forge permanent friendships while you are here.”
He added: “Dear friends, beautiful people, every deal you clinch creates jobs. People visiting the continent help us to address poverty and unemployment. Welcome, enjoy it and do good business.”
For the more than 600 media, national and international, he had this message: “Showcase us, highlight Africa’s Travel Indaba to the more than 80 countries here. Tell our stories to the whole world.”
Sporting a Madiba shirt, the Minister also referred to the Nelson Mandela Centenary Celebrations taking place this year, some of which are taking place at this year’s travel trade show. “Africa’s Travel Indaba is happening at an important time as it would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday this year.”
The CEO of South African Tourism, Sisa Ntshona, called the trade show the leading travel exhibition in the world. “Over the next three days, we look forward to hosting you and ensuring that we provide the necessary platforms to grow your business and create opportunities for Africa to shine in the travel and tourism industry.”
eThekwini Deputy mayor, Councillor Fawzia Peer, reiterated the City’s commitment to growing Africa’s Travel Indaba over the next five years. “Our view is that this decision was influenced by the fact that the travel trade show is synonymous with Durban – we cannot imagine it being hosted anywhere else.”
The Acting Premier of the province, Sihle Zikalala, also touched on this. “Thank you for allowing us to host this event for the next five years because you believe in us. We also encourage intra Africa trade, which resonates within the tourism industry.”