Recently, three tourism related trade shows took place in Cape Town, and this week the city hosted the inaugural We Are Africa show, which is widely considered the new stage for promoting African travel to top international travel buyers.
According toBruce Deneys, Director of Sales and Marketing at Pepperclub Hotel & Spa, the increase in the number of trade shows hosted in the country highlights the improved perception of the country’s offerings globally.
The majority of these travel trade shows, which aim to promote and drive tourism revenue for the country, have not been hosted on South African soil before. “The annual Durban tourism Indaba has always been the only prominent travel show, so the increased number of trade shows taking place this year indicates an increasing interest and demand from individuals wanting to visit South Africa, which is extremely promising for future tourism revenue,” says Deneys.
He says that these new trade shows being held in Cape Town confirm that the city is growing as a destination for travellers. “Many tourists in the past have travelled to the country solely for inland game safaris, and then included Cape Town as a stopover destination. However, increasingly, travellers are considering the city as its own destination and including extra days in their itinerary to visit and explore the city’s diverse offerings. The city currently holding the 2014 World Design Capital has only boosted the interest in Cape Town more.”
He says that while tourism figures are continuing to grow year-on-year, there is still much room for growth given the country’s varied draw cards. He points to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer which revealed that of the additional 52 million international tourists travelling the world in 2013, Africa only attracted an additional three million arrivals, as opposed to Europe, Asia and the Pacific and America, which saw an additional 29, 14 and six million international tourists respectively.
Deneys says that while these trade shows will put a spotlight on the country’s tourism offering and assist in driving tourist arrivals, it has also highlighted the need for increased direct flights into Cape Town. “While the country is an attractive and value-for-money destination, South Africa remains a long-haul destination for many travellers, and this can deter some travellers from visiting. For instance, it was a huge loss when when Air Malaysia discontinued flights from Buenos Aires to Cape Town as far as Latin America business was concerned.”
Deneys explains that each of the trade and tourism shows that recently took place create an opportunity to market the country’s products and increase awareness, both locally and internationally. “Each trade show appeals to a different audience as different buyers are attracted to specific shows, and the shows therefore maximise the impact for the local tourism market,” says Deneys.
For instances, the International Luxury Travel Market Africa (ILTM) show targets traditional and luxury accommodation options, while the inaugural World Travel Market Africa (WTM) is very country focused. Another new trade show, We Are Africa, instead aims to redefine African travel by showcasing the most outstanding and exclusive of travel brands.
Deneys says that the We Are Africa, which mirrors the LE Miami show, a fiercely business-driven yet passionately festival-like event, has enormous advantages for tourism players given the structure of the show, as well as the calibre of buyers that are flown into the country to attend the show, such as the buyer who represents all PA’s for international celebrities. “We Are Africa has a different structure in that all meetings are pre-scheduled by the organisers. This format ensures a more targeted approach and face-to-face time with potential clients, and the opportunity to build trust. The key to growing tourism and generating business is trust. By creating this trust, establishments are closer to obtaining business.”
The first edition of IBTM Africa, the leading global event for Africa’s incentives, meetings and business travel industry, was also hosted in Cape Town last week. Deneys says that this show is encouraging for increasing business tourism figures. “The local hospitality and leisure industry is currently extremely focused on incentives. While the business meetings market is slowing increasing, the country needs to continue growing this market.”
Deneys says that these trade shows ensure that more travel buyers are entering the country, and then promoting the destination to their clients globally. “The increased interest in the country and its offerings can only bode well for tourism figures. However, in order to maximise the results, and improve Cape Town’s competitiveness for a long haul destination, more direct flights are needed,” concludes Deneys.