The Kingdom of Eswatini will today join over 20 African countries for day 1 of this year’s edition of Africa’s Travel Indaba taking place at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (Durban ICC) in South Africa.
This 3-day tourism show is renowned for being one of the largest tourism marketing events on the African calendar and one of the top three ‘must visit’ events of its kind on the global calendar. Africa’s Travel Indaba takes place annually, bringing together provincial authorities, provincial products and African Countries.
The Kingdom of Eswatini led by the Minister for Tourism & Environmental, MP Moses Vilakati, will once again showcase Eswatini’s unique tourism products to over 1,000 international buyers as well as tour operators and travel media from different corners of the world. This is all in the spirit of promoting Destination Eswatini to the world for purposes of increasing tourism arrivals, tourism receipts and the length of stay by tourists visiting the country.
On the day preceding the commencement of the official programme, Africa’s Travel Indaba hosts a Business Opportunity Networking (BON) Day dedicated for info share on tourism business best practices.
The Minister of Tourism & Environmental Affairs was invited to speak on the panel of the African Ministerial Tourism Dialogue hosted by South African Tourism. The dialogue was centred on discussing ways that Africa could elevate its tourism profile and increase inbound tourism. The theme focused on how this could be achieved through enhancing destination marketing and investing in tourism infrastructure and air access in a way that creates employment and stimulates growth in emerging markets.
Some of the countries on the panel included Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Namibia.
Speaking on the panel, the Minister contextualised tourism’s contribution in stimulating Eswatini’s economy. The Minister cited the findings from the Minister of Labour’s Labour Force Survey 2021 which indicated that tourism accounts for 30% of direct employment.
The Minister went on to emphasise the importance of Eswatini attending shows such as this one and strengthening ties with its source markets.
“South Africa has remained the country’s main source market in the past 10 years, accounting for over 65% of annual visitations. The KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province is the third highest visitor generating province, after Mpumalanga and Gauteng. Therefore, with a combined population of over 12 million between KZN and Eswatini, the two destinations have an enormous tourism product offering and attractions,” explained the Minister.
MP Moses Vilakati implored the continent’s tourism ministers to address issues of connectivity for improved and seamless intra-African travel.
“Connectivity is very critical in elevating the continent’s tourism profile. Minister Patricia De Lile, please revive South African Airlink (SAA) as soon as possible. The airline was really leading us well to West and East Africa. Now we have to connect in European countries when travelling within Africa making these countries difficult to access,” stressed the Minister.
The Minister went on to appeal for urgent attention to matter of visas across the continent. He urged the panel of African tourism minister to align their visas with other countries and cited that Eswatini had looked at countries that were visa exempt in South Africa for purposes of aligning with that for increased tourism activity in the region.
Another one of the recommendations put forward by the Minister for elevating African tourism to encourage increased tourism traction was for countries to embrace and capitalise on their unique cultures.
‘’Each one of our countries has unique cultures. We should embrace cultural tourism and capitalise on it. In Eswatini we pride ourselves in our culture spanning over 400 years. If we all did this, it would also give us an opportunity to promote the African continent as one unique attraction,” said the Minister.
The Minister of Tourism in South Africa, Patricia De Lille, stressed the importance of collaboration among African countries. She invited tourism leaders to rethink and sharpen their focus for a better Africa that creates sustainable industries and sustainable infrastructure.
“We must now walk the talk. When we go home, we must implement what we have agreed on here and have a practical plan as African Minister and the AU. Please use this opportunity and secure those deals so that we can attract more people to Africa,” she said.