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With 990 confirmed exhibitors from 26 African countries and more in the pipeline, over 1000 buyers and 120 Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) taking part and hotels expected to enjoy 85% occupancy rates, the Africa Travel Indaba (ATI) 2024 is well on track to outperform last year’s event, it was revealed during the official launch at the BAT Centre in Durban today (April 23).

Deputy Minister of Tourism, Mr Fish Mahlalela, together with KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), Mr Siboniso Duma, confirmed that the upcoming ATI 2024, which would be held from May 13 to 16 at Durban’s ICC would have a significant impact on both the provincial and national economies.

This year’s Africa’s Travel Indaba, which Mahlalela described as proudly Pan-African, is themed “Unlimited Africa”, emphasising the vast array of experiences and products available across the continent.

Mahlalela pointed out that, according to a South African Tourism survey, ATI 2024’s predecessor made a total economic contribution of R1.2 billion to the national fiscus. This included a direct contribution to the South African economy of approximately R408.6 million and an additional indirect contribution of R776.4 million. ATI 2023 also created or sustained 2 295 jobs and contributed R75 million to national government taxes

“Despite the subdued economic environment, we are optimistic that the 2024 instalment will match or surpass these figures. Africa’s Travel Indaba remains one of the top four global trade travel and tourism trade shows. The sheer scale and the number of delegates that attend is not only testament to this but also speaks to the value that this trade continues to provide to all delegates,” he said.

Duma pointed out that ATI’s value came from targeted opportunities for networking and connecting to advance meaningful business for buyers and exhibitors. He said the province was exceptionally proud to host this world-class and internationally recognised travel trade fair and would soon bid to continue hosting this iconic event from 2025 onwards.

“Over and again, the Durban ICC has proved itself more than capable of handling mega-international events and this is a key part of KZN wanting to make our province the permanent home of Africa’s Travel Indaba,” he said.

With a direct economic impact of around R130 million on the province last year and the growth in the number of participants estimated to increase from 8 000 to 9 000 this year, he noted that the ATI played an important role in tourism growth.

The destination marketing and publicity value of the ATI is immeasurable. The impact of the arrival of hundreds of international visitors from as far as the USA, UK, Europe, India , Asia and the East would be extended as many elected to spend additional time exploring.

This year, 36 countries would be represented at the ATI, including newcomers Burkina Faso, Eritrea, and Guinea.

Duma noted that South Africa’s international tourist numbers were growing rapidly, boosting international visitors to KZN. Over the past year, 646 234 international visitors came to the province and KZN is expected to welcome over 800 000 international visitors in the coming year, surpassing 2019 arrivals.

“More tourists means more people spending money on accommodation, transport, restaurants and food, entertainment and sightseeing. This not only maintains the estimated 161 000 direct jobs in the KZN tourism sector, but leads to the expansion of tourism, creating more jobs for local people and opportunities for entrepreneurs to start their own tourism businesses,” he said.

He added that a thriving provincial tourism sector created an appetite for investment. An integrated investment of R157 billion, which includes Transnet, the eThekwini Municipality and Ithala Bank, would result in the development of the Durban Bay Waterfront and completely change the face of Durban and KZN.

The KZN Logistics Hub programme includes the development of the Island View, Container Terminal, Bayhead, Maydon Wharf and the Point Recreation precinct. More than 570 000 jobs will be created. This will encompass overhauling and redeveloping the marina and its transformation into a world-class economic, tourism, water sports and recreation asset.

Mahlalela described the ATI 2024 as a proudly Pan African event.

“As the continent’s premier travel and tourism tradeshow, it is clear Africa’s Travel Indaba, is an expression of a continent that has been hard at work to addressing various challenges and barriers to promote seamless travel. Travel Indaba is a critical platform for showcasing Africa’s diversity and fostering collaboration among its nations. Contrary to outdated stereotypes portraying Africa as a ‘dark continent,’ the African story is one of resilience and growth – Africa’s Travel Indaba showcases this story best.

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