Freetobook’s co-director, Iain Stewart, recently returned from the INDABA in Durban, one of Africa’s biggest annual tourism marketing events. The 2012 INDABA, with its theme of “Shaping Our Future Together”, was a huge success. More than 1500 exhibitors from all parts of Africa took part and by the beginning of the final day nearly 11,000 people had attended.
Having grown up in Botswana, Iain was really looking forward to the INDABA and was enormously impressed by the scale of the event, commenting, “Everybody who is anybody in the region was there, taking advantage of the three huge halls and the added luxury of being able to use the outdoor areas between halls (in winter) to showcase the more practical aspects of a safari (trucks and tents).”
One of the aspects of the INDABA that most struck Iain was the support that B&B and Guest Houses received when it came to attending and promoting themselves.
“You would not normally see these smaller properties at the larger global travel events like the WTM in London and FITUR in Madrid,” he observes. “At the Indaba these businesses were being represented individually and were being supported to exhibit. The key player in this area is the Tourism Enterprise Programme (TEP) whose remit it is to create wealth and jobs. The TEP is funded by the Business Trust and the National Department for Tourism. This level of focus clearly shows there is a genuine belief in the power of change that tourism can have. I also got the feeling that these small, medium-sized, and microenterprises (SMMEs) were seeing value in joining together and many associations were represented at the Indaba. Again technology, like Freetobook, is playing a big part in enabling these businesses to link up and work with each other over what are significant distances.”
Iain made lots of great contacts at the INDABA and we’re looking forward to developing these new relationships with property owners throughout Africa.