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The Kingdom of Eswatini

Eswatini’s participation at World Travel Market Africa a resounding success!

The 2023 edition of the World Travel Market (WTM) Africa held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (ICC) from 3 to 5 April yielded rewarding outcomes for Eswatini’s tourism industry.

Attending shows such as WTM Africa continues to present the country with lucrative opportunities for staying in touch with tour operators, buyers and travel writers from the region and abroad. It is a credible platform for sharing industry best practices amongst members of the tourism industry where different speakers unpack the latest trends in the tourism landscape.

Eswatini was among the 49 countries that graced this year’s session while new countries among the buyers included Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Romania, Omani, Austrian and Thailand, among others. The Eswatini Tourism Authority (ETA) secured a stand at the show to market Eswatini to participating buyers. As a result, ETA secured over 40 tour operators, buyers, travel agents and travel writers on both prescheduled appointments and non-scheduled ones.

The Eswatini stand was co-shared by 8 tourism establishment representatives from Eswatini who enjoyed between 20 and 30 appointments, making the Eswatini stand a hive of activity during the 3 days’ show. Members of industry present were Foresters Arms Hotel, Happy Valley Hotel, Emafini Country Lodge, Mantenga Lodge, Nkonyeni Golf Estate, Piggs Peak Hotel, The Royal Villas, Big Game Parks and Eswatini Air.

Additionally, WTM Africa serves as an incredible forum for generating sales leads, unveiling new products, exploring new markets and improving brand awareness to relevant audiences, all while keeping up with latest developments from competitors. Forums like WTM Africa also enhance tourism market research for destination marketers and buyers alike and help Eswatini and other participating countries establish new relationships while maintaining existing ones.

This year, the show saw an impressive 35% increase of exhibitors who were 577 in total. The number of buyers and tour operators reached an excess of 400 with 63% of them being new buyers participating in the WTM for the first time.

This increase in participation meant that exhibitors were exposed to new markets from across the globe. A highly sought-after networking environment, the show also hosted Business to Business (B2B) meetings that lined up over 200 speakers discussing various topics such as sustainable tourism, tourism investment seminars, travel marketing, research and trends in tourism in Africa, to mention but a few.

The WTM Africa also welcomed reputable tour operators such as Thompsons, Springbok Atlas, Fairfield Tours, African Eagles and Involve Africa who provide a good platform for new markets for destination while strengthening existing ones.  There were also several airlines including Emirates, SAA, Airlink, Kenya Airways, while popular destinations outside Africa included Dubai and the Maldives. The whole of SADC tourism Boards were at the show to showcase their destination offering to the buyers.

ETA’s Head of Marketing, Sboniso Madlopha, emphasised that the Eswatini’s participation in this year’s WTM Africa was a resounding success and a much-needed opportunity to engage Eswatini source markets and emerging markets.

“We were able to meet key buyers from our source markets in Europe and across the region where we presented our calendar of activities for them to identify the best times to visit Eswatini so that they enjoy cultural showcases, wildlife excursions and the unparalleled scenic splendours which all appealed to the buyers. Commonly asked questions included visa requirements, travel restrictions and access to Eswatini,” explained Madlopha.

Madlopha further indicated that these meetings were instrumental in helping buyers learn more about Eswatini and its tourism products so that they include Eswatini in their clients’ packages and increase their length of stay in Eswatini.

“This is in line with the targets set by the Authority to attract 2 million international arrivals, increase tourism receipts to E2 billion and increase the number of nights spent in the country by tourists to at least 3 nights by 2025,” said Madlopha.

Comments from Eswatini Tourism Representatives at WTM Africa

Bongekile Fakudze, Marketing Coordinator at Happy Valley Hotel

“The show was a huge success! We were able to connect with key tour operators and buyers who showed great interest in bring tourists to spend time at the Happy Valley Hotel. Shows such as this one add incredible value to the industry’s marketing efforts aimed at bringing tourists to Eswatini. We urge Emaswati to continue displaying their hospitable spirit when tourists visit Eswatini so that they can sell their experiences to others thus sustaining the industry and the jobs attached to it.”

Stefan Lourens, Nkonyeni Golf Estate & Lodge

“I have had a very busy 3 days attending to meetings back-to-back. Buyers were interested in knowing about our golf course, accommodation capacity and the quality of service that we offer. We have had very good enquiries and I appreciate the opportunity to come here and sell our brand to the buyers”.

Xolani Gama, Marketing & Sales Manager at Big Game Parks

“We are so excited to be here as Big Game Parks. After the show’s return last year, we managed to secure over 30 meetings with different tour operators and they have plans to bring people to Eswatini. The fact that we have just launched Eswatini Air means the people from here in Cape Town can now fly directly to Eswatini which allows them to cut down on travel time and travel costs. We are confident that this will attract more people to Eswatini to spend their money on our unique products and experiences.”

Batsabile Nkambule, Communications & Marketing Manager at Eswatini Air

“We were the busiest at this show. We met different tour operators who wanted to know more about Eswatini Air’s routes and schedules. We also had several meetings with potential partners in marketing the airline in the region. So, coming to WTM Africa jumpstarted our marketing drive to the region and beyond to tour operators from all over the world. With the other routes coming up soon, there is already some interest from different partners looking to work with Eswatini Air.”