A fitting tribute to the potential of tourism in Africa, WTM Africa 2018 has closed its doors to its most successful exhibition to date, with attendees from all over the world, with a 6% increase in pre-scheduled appointments on last year, and a marked growth in exhibitors on previous years.
“WTM Africa 2018 has been a major success with exhibitors and buyers alike already expressing their interest in WTM Africa 2019! We have seen a steady of flow of foot traffic across the exhibition floor over all three days, and record attendance at all of our speaker sessions,” says Chardonnay Marchesi, South Africa Portfolio Director for Reed Exhibitions’ Travel, Tourism & Sports Portfolio.
Key and emerging source markets were represented in buyers and travel professionals from 58 countries, including the Americas, Asia Pacific and Middle Eastern regions from countries such as United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Australia, China, India, Brazil, Canada and Argentina.
Focused on showcasing the incredible beauty and tourism potential of the African continent, the highly-anticipated travel trade show opened its doors annually to a throng of travel professionals eager to meet, network and consolidate business. Both inbound and outbound travel professionals were welcomed in the host city of Cape Town each year with a palpable buzz and excitement.
“We measure our own success on the number of exhibitors, buyers, media and tourism stakeholders that actively seek to attend WTM Africa, and WTM Africa 2018 is no different,” explains Chardonnay Marchesi. We have exceeded our exhibitor record for WTM Africa this year, and this certainly shows in the sensational vibe one can experience when walking the exhibition floor!”, she concluded.
The inaugural Tourism Investors’ Forum also examined the possibility for development in both the tourism sector and it’s peripheral industries on the first day of WTM Africa 2018, focusing on the theme ‘Unlocking the Tourism Potential of Africa’.
“The inaugural WTM Africa Investor’s Forum aimed to offer visitors and buyers insights into the various tourism investment opportunities available on the African continent. The growth in foreign tourist arrivals to key markets in Africa also presents investment opportunities. We are honoured to have had institutions such as the City of Cape Town, Estmentel Group, Mantis Collection, DSA Architects International, Mauritius Tourism Promotion Agency and the Ghana Tourism Authority participating in this session sharing their experiences and opportunities available for potential investors to invest in Africa,” reports Sugen Pillay, Commercial Director for Reed Exhibitions.
Raj Bhujohory, Chairman of Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA), says of WTM Africa: “It is a privilege to be a part of this truly global travel expo. It has also been a real eye-opener for us to meet and interact with people from all across the world. We have met such interesting people and had really constructive meetings that we are confident will result in increased arrivals to our beautiful tropical island.”
“The success of business in Africa rests in face-to-face partnerships and relationships. Exhibitions are an ideal Launchpad into business on the rest of the continent. This is why WTM Africa continues to be a premier platform for growing travel and tourism,” says Carol Weaving, Managing Director of Reed Exhibitions.”
In a recent exhibitions’ study, it was revealed that there was a 70% increase in brand impact when three or more senses of a person were triggered, furthers Weaving: “WTM Africa allows for a very cognitive experience that engages attendees and creates an environment that is likelier to result in positive business transactions.”
“Following on the theme of opportunity in tourism, captains of industry present at the Travel Leader’s Lunch mulled over how to improve communication and collaboration to foster stronger relationships between the public and private sectors linked to the tourism industry,” explained Weaving, who attended the lunch alongside fellow industry stalwarts.
Alderman Patricia De Lille, Executive Mayor City of Cape Town, spoke of WTM Africa: “For the past three years, local entrepreneurs have exhibited at the City’s exhibition stand at WTM Africa, the continent’s largest international travel industry event. The City has been a proud supporter of the event since 2014 which enables local entrepreneurs to meet and engage with top tourism industry buyers and trade visitors from around the world.”
The second day showcased the extraordinary potential of Africa as a destination for travellers through its popular Speed Networking sessions. Operating at full capacity, these sessions gave exhibitors the chance to expand the reach of their product through short appointments with potential buyers.
The host City of Cape Town were delighted to show WTM Africa’s prestigious Buyers the sights and sounds of the city too. Says Alderman Patricia De Lille, Executive Mayor City of Cape Town: “This year, as part of the City of Cape Town’s vision to create an enabling environment for the growth of emerging tourism enterprises and to ensure meaningful participation in the industry, the City of Cape Town took some of the world’s top tourism industry buyers on tours of Langa and the BoKaap, to get a first-hand experience of our local tourism gems.”
De Lille furthers: “In Langa, buyers enjoyed a walking tour of the Langa Quarter – which includes 13 streets and a nucleus of 200 homes which have been transformed into restaurants, galleries, informal bars and craft stores – followed by lunch with the locals. The BoKaap experience included a visit to the Auwal Masjid, the oldest mosque in South Africa, a stop at the oldest spice shop in the area, a visit to the BoKaap museum and a Cape Malay cooking class.”
The event was a celebration of the varied sectors that contribute to tourism development in Africa. This was furthered at the first Sports & Events Tourism Exchange (SETE) to be held at WTM Africa, which delved into the potential of large events tourism on the African continent and how this could exponentially grow tourism’s contribution to our economy.
Speaking on the success of SETE, John Robbie, Master of Ceremonies for the event, said: “There was certainly a very positive feeling around the potential of events here, the challenge will be to better share information moving ahead. We have the infrastructure and investment, now it’s about maximising on that!”
Running concurrently with WTM Africa, the African Business Travel Association (ABTA) Corporate Travel Forum highlighted the key trends, challenges and opportunities within corporate travel and allowed corporate travel professionals the chance to relay the current landscape of travel in their sector: “Partnership and collaboration has always been important to ABTA. We were delighted to partner with WTM Africa this year to bring an ABTA Corporate Travel Forum to our Cape Town Chapter and doing this alongside WTM Africa made perfect sense. Thank you to WTM Africa for the collaboration and we look forward to more in the future,” says Monique Swart, Founder of ABTA.
The final day saw the continued success of the Speed Networking events, with exhibitors meeting with over 135 buyers to showcase their products.
“Travel and tourism are global businesses with a worldwide market, and it is vital that companies either large or small know and understand how the market is developing and how their customers are using online platforms both for business and leisure. The ETAS discussions give a great snapshot of what is happening globally online for travel and it helps businesses to think about their online priorities for the coming year.”
The focus on digital trends and technology on tourism was highlighted too at the E-Tourism Africa Summit (ETAS), as well as throughout the presentation on the future and challenges of influencer marketing with iambassador.
“Travel and tourism are global businesses with a worldwide market, and it is vital that companies either large or small know and understand how the market is developing and how their customers are using online platforms both for business and leisure. The ETAS discussions give a great snapshot of what is happening globally online for travel and it helps businesses to think about their online priorities for the coming year,” surmised Damian Cook, CEO of E-Tourism Frontiers, who facilitated ETAS.
As part of centenary celebrations of birth of former president, Nelson Mandela, the City of Cape Town announced at WTM Africa that it will be developing a multimedia exhibition to commemorate the life of the former president, his Cape Town connection, and the democratic movement within the city.
“WTM Africa has been a really good experience for Dream Hotels. We have met with quality buyers, had busy days on the stand and have enjoyed good service from Reed Exhibitions!” says Wayne Neath, National Sales Manager for Dream Hotels.