travel agents will once again be in the limelight in South Africa this year with
no less than five trade shows welcoming overseas buyers to the country.
However, industry players in South Africa fear an excess of trade shows could
just dilute the focus of these events.
will host Africa Travel Week from April
15 to 17 this year. The event, organized by Reed Travel Exhibitions and Thebe
Reed Exhibitions, comprises three co-located shows: World Travel Market Africa
(WTM), ILTM Africa and IBTM Africa, encompassing Africa's inbound and outbound
markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel and the meetings/business travel
sector, respectively. WTM
it has already exceeded expectations for 2015 with a phenomenal growth in
exhibitor attendance and has therefore decided to extend the event from two to
three days.Organizers saidWTM
Africa’s inaugural event in 2014 saw approximately 4,000 industry professionals
negotiate deals worth $314 million. And ILTM
Africa expects 2015 to be bigger and better than 2014. Alison Gilmore, senior exhibition director, ILTM Portfolio comments:
“Over 80% of the total number of attending buyers are new to ILTM Africa, and
over 50% of these are new to the ILTM portfolio. This means that ILTM offers an
extraordinary opportunity to meet serious Africa specialist buyers that have
never yet attended a previous ILTM event.”
a month after that triple event, Cape Town will welcome We Are Africafrom May 4 to 7.
This travel trade exhibition will host a selection of African and Indian
Ocean travel brands from Cairo to Cape Town and Dakar to Port Louis, showcasing
their products and services to some of the world's top travel trade buyers
directly in charge of sourcing products from Africa.
We Are Africahas once again joined forces with INDABA,
which will be held in Durban from May 9 to 11, under the banner of “Two Shows,
One Africa.” The partnership was initiated in 2014 to ensure that select
international buyers would be exposed to exhibitors at both these must-attend
African travel events, guaranteeing them access to ‘the very best Africa has to
offer’ over the course of one week.
Beal,owner of tour operator Travel Beyond, says the competition between the different shows can be good, but he also points
out time is a valuable commodity and Travel Beyond has been strategic when it
comes to choosing which trade shows to attend in Africa. This year, they
will have just one representative (out of ten safari consultants) at We Are Africa and no representatives at
any other trade show in Africa.
According to Beal, most
of the suppliers come to Travel Beyond’s offices in the USA throughout the year.
“This makes trade shows in Africa less important than when we were a small
company 10 years ago. Travel Beyond is also a member of the Signature
Travel Network, and we can see suppliers at that meeting in Las Vegas each
year,” he says.
Jim Holden, president of African Travel, doubts several back-to-back trade shows
are sustainable. He says: “For a buyer to attend all of them means being out of
the office too long. For an exhibitor to attend all shows is too expensive. The
ideal is a better managed and presented Indaba bringing the best of the several
shows together under one umbrella.”
Ronald S. Mracky,managing director at Africa Consult Group,
says he believes the number of South African shows is slowly getting out of
hand. “Each of the South Africa shows presents management with a quandary:
which to attend [and invest money out of the marketing or research budgets]?”
According to Mracky,
tourism companies want the various trade shows to "tell them something that is
new" and “tell them something they can use.” He adds: “Unfortunately, the
current shows do not respect the actual frontline business needs of the
operators and those in the very competitive business of travel to and within
Africa. Because of that, the selection is arbitrary, based more on where the
company wants to spend the two or three days.”
explains there is a definite need for Africa to have one all-encompassing
African Union show, similar to what ITB Berlin offers for European destinations.
He says: “Such a show would become the important show that almost every
marketing and product development executive — Internet, or not — will want to
be part of and rationalize that they must attend to know what is forthcoming in
Africa to sell to the travel world.”