• Saturday, July 20, 2024
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WTM Africa 2023: An impressive outing for continent’s travel trade

WTM Africa 2023: An impressive outing for continent’s travel trade

For almost a decade (since 2014), the World Travel Market has graced the African travel industry with great strides.

Since the launch under the Africa Travel Week umbrella, WTM Africa, which is one of six shows in the WTM portfolio, has lived up to its billing as the leading global events for the travel industry, offering huge networking and business opportunities to the stakeholders in the African region.

Like other years, the 2023 edition of the exclusive B2B event from April 3-5, 2023 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, South Africa on the theme, “Recover. Rebuild. Innovate.”

However, it recorded huge feats that exceeded pre-pandemic numbers.

The 2013 achievements

The show was back to pre-pandemic numbers with over 5,000 registrations, almost 600 exhibitors, 49 new countries, 200 expert speakers and over 80 hours of content sessions. The event also had 9,200 pre-scheduled appointments, a 35 percent increase compared to last year.

New comers

WTM Africa recorded over 63 percent new buyers this year. They come from exciting markets such as Malaysia, Pakistan, Thailand, Philippines, Romania, Armenia, San Marino and Uzbekistan.

Previous years

In 2022, WTM Africa welcomed 6,200 industry professionals from the travel industry globally and from across the African region, 5700 of these attendees were trade visitors and 500 were active high-profiled buyers. The top industry sectors represented included adventure travel, safari holidays, business tourism and city breaks.

In 2019, there was an increase of 15 percent in the number of visitors at the WTM Africa show, who traveled from 100 different countries.

Read also: How sustained improvement on visa openness impacts intra-African travels, exchanges

Exhibitors’ views

Most of the exhibitors at the B2B show this year, especially from the African region, were delighted amid many benefits from their participation; from rich engagements, sharing ideas and promoting their respective businesses and destinations.

Of course, Kenya used the WTM Africa platform to highlight how Magical Kenya is.

Sharing her views at the Kenyan stand, Susan Ongalo, CEO, Kenya Tourism Federation, said the rich engagements and exchanges at the travel market signal that there is confidence on a full rebound for Kenya’s tourism.

“It is good to be back to the WTM – Africa 2023. It feels re-energizing coming from the ‘break’ since 2019 for the Magical Kenya brand to be at CTICC.

“The networking and experience exchanges are very promising towards accelerating the recovery of the travel, tourism and hospitality industry.

“As the engines rear to go, remember that Magical Kenya awaits to unfold for Africa to Africa, and international to Africa. Karibu!” She enthused.

Seychelles also made inroads at the show this year.

According to David Germain, regional director for Africa, Tourism Seychelles, the WTM Africa exhibition is a boost to the marketing efforts of Tourism Seychelles in Africa.

“We are excited to be here. WTM Africa provides us with great networking opportunities in enhancing our relationships with the travel trade,” Germain said.

In the same vein, Sarah Njanji of the Malawi Department of Tourism, expressed satisfaction with the quality of buyers and other networking events that enabled exhibitors to engage and share ideas and knowledge.

Trends

Visitors and exhibitors at WTM Africa 2023 were exposed to the trends by industry experts. Some of the trends include; wellness retreats and voluntourism on the increase; travel experiences that connect with local people, cultures, and traditions; authenticity in travel experiences for Millennials; AI shaping the future of the industry, among others.

Government backing

Since inception, the South African government has supported WTM Africa. At the opening of the show, Patricia De Lille, Minister of Tourism, South Africa, was optimistic about the tourism industry’s recovery.

“We are all ready to come back with a bang. And we have already started coming back. I can feel the opportunity in tourism. In my new role, I will focus on implementation, as it is time for us to now walk the talk,” the minister said on the role tourism plays in South Africa.

Eddie Andrews, deputy mayor of Cape Town, also highlighted the importance of tourism for the Host City of Cape Town.

“We believe in the possibility of Africa. As tourism is an economic driver for Cape Town, we are building a city of hope. Our aim is to create a tourism-related job in every single household. People want to hear stories, and Africa has many stories to tell,” he said.

The organisers are more excited at the successful outing

Carol Weaving, managing director, RX Africa, highlighted the statistics when she said: “WTM starts today. We have 577 exhibitors, 9,200 pre-scheduled appointments. We are back and ready to do business. Sixty-six per cent of buyers are brand new from new markets like Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, Pakistan, Romania and Bangladesh. The repeat buyers are from our key source markets.”