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South Africa moves to bring Africa together as they make their bid to consolidate their tourism arrival numbers from India

South Africa moves to bring Africa together as they make their bid to consolidate their tourism arrival numbers from India ( Mr. Michael Mabuyakhulu, the South African Kwazulu-Natal Minister for Economic Development and Tourism, invited Ministers from Africa to stand with South Africa as they made their bid to consolidate their tourism arrival numbers from India by hosting the TAFI 2013 (Travel Agents Federation of India) Convention.

Minister Mabuyakhulu delivered an address that highlighted South Africa’s position in the presence of Minister Alain St.Ange, the Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture from the Seychelles, and Minister Mduduzi Small Joe Dlamini from the Kingdom of Swaziland among other dignitaries, and close to 1,000 tourism industry delegates who had flown into South Africa from India for the 2013 TAFI convention at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban on February 25, 2013.

Following addresses by Minister Alain St.Ange of the Seychelles and Minister Dlamini of the Kingdom of Swaziland, Minister Mabuyakhulu from South Africa took to the podium to deliver the keynote address:

“Program Director (Ms. Mckenzie&Mr. Kiru Naidoo); The Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs of the Kingdom of Swaziland, Honorable Mr. Mduduzi Dlamini; The Minister of Tourism and Culture from the Republic of Seychelles, Honorable Mr. Alain St. Ange; The High Commissioner of India, His Excellency Mr. Virendra Gupta; The MEC for Agriculture and Environmental Affairs, Hon. Dr. BM Radebe; The Consul General of RSA in India, His Excellency Mr. Pule Malefane; His Worship the Mayor of eThekwini Municipality, Councillor James Nxumalo; President of TAFI, Mr. Zakir Ahmed; Vice President of TAFI, Mr. Praveen Chugh; Chairperson of the TKZN Board; Mr. Sadha Naidoo; Chair of lnterglobe Enterprises, and MD of Indigo Airlines, Mr. Rhaul Bhartia; President of SATSA, Mr. Craig Drysdale; CEO of SA Tourism, Mr. Thulani Nzima; CEO of Tourism Business Council, Ms. Mmatsatsi Ramawela; Distinguish Guests:

“It is a singular honor for us to again stand before this august gathering of decision makers and stakeholders in the global tourism industry in a slightly-relaxed atmosphere where we break bread but continue to engage on the fundamental question of how we can build on the existing excellent relations between South Africa and India, particularly from a tourism perspective.

“Program Director, by their very nature, dinners are not platforms that lend themselves to long speeches and tiresome theoretical presentations. Rather, they are occasions for interaction, relaxing and networking while still getting the work done. As such, our input into this evening's proceedings will be characterized by their brevity so that we can all get a chance to network and interact in a less formal environment. Program Director, as all of us are aware, tourism is a global phenomenon and a true growth industry today.

“Indeed, tourism is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, a world-wide trend which flies in the face of lingering economic concerns and necessary levels of austerity in, especially the United States of America and large parts of Europe.

“This is a multi-billion-dollar industry and one of the biggest on the planet, involving the travel movement of hundreds of millions of people every year. There can be no doubt, ladies and gentlemen, that tourism is, therefore, a major driver of economic growth and development and is rightly regarded as having a far-reaching economic impact; an impact which is felt right across the globe.

“Crucially, while Europe remains a dominant force in the tourism environment, with by far the greatest number of tourists - totaling almost 500 million in 2010- Asia and the Middle East have emerged to show the greatest growth in tourist arrivals.

“In Africa, too, we have witnessed and been an integral part of the phenomenal upswing in the travel industry, with international arrivals spiking at almost 50 million in 2010 from less than 15 million in 1990. Further, according to the 2012 United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Tourism Highlights Report their 2030 projections for the industry's performance suggest that:

• “In the past, emerging economy destinations have grown faster than advanced economy destinations, and this trend is set to continue in the future. Between 2010 and 2030, arrivals to emerging economies are expected to increase at double the pace (+4.4% a year) of those to advanced economies (+2.2% a year).

• “As a result, the market share of emerging economies has increased from 30% in 1980 to 47% in 2011, and is expected to reach 57% by 2030, equivalent to over one billion international tourist arrivals.

“What these figures and others contained in this and other studies, confirm unequivocally that the future of tourism lies with the developing world. As so-called emerging economies, these figures should both enthuse us to seek and grab the projected growth opportunities and also accept that these projections are a precursor to some tough competition that will emanate from established destinations, particularly in the developed world.

“It would be the height of negligence for tourism players within the emerging economies to convince themselves that wresting the global leadership status from the developed economies would be a walk-in-the-park. We must, as we have always done, invest serious and deliberate efforts to grow the tourism industry in the developing world. As we aim to seize the opportunities that altering global order has presented to us, there are certain key points that we should not lose sight of.

“One of the biggest and most important factors in the global tourism arena today, is that there is a far greater awareness than ever before of how and where people may spend their leisure time. Advancements in communication and a growing sophistication in methods used to monitor the trends in global tourism, mean that it is those destinations who market themselves vigorously who will reap the rewards. Awareness is a critical success factor in any sector of the economy and none more so than in the tightly competitive tourism environment. We may all be content to live in a global village, but that village comprises so many varied destinations that competition for a slice of the market has become - and will undoubtedly remain - hugely intense.

“But, it is that all-important awareness which will most certainly sway the minds of tourists and assist in their making informed decisions about their travel destinations of choice as we move forward into an ever more challenging future.

“And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the importance of such gatherings as this, the 2013 TAFI Convention. It is, in my view, critical that tourism industry role-players - such as yourselves - are exposed to existing and potentially new destinations, generating that very necessary awareness and being able to then translate that awareness and appreciation into advice; advice upon which the travelers with whom you interact back home are so dependant.

“Program Director, the riches of our province are too many to count. We have an idyllic destination and one which we are keen to share with the world. This region's scenic natural beauty, wonderfully warm climate and sunny weather, cultural diversity and a well-deserved reputation for friendliness and the delivery of value-for-money tourist experiences of note, makes ours one of the fastest developing leisure and business tourism destinations anywhere in the world.

“This is something on which we must and will capitalize going forward. Ladies and gentlemen, it goes without saying, then, that this convention provides an ideal platform for the professional development of tourism related relations, the sharing of information and moves to familiarize you with our destination by exploring the numerous attractions we, in KwaZuluNatal, have to offer the Indian tourist market.

“The 2013 TAFI Convention creates the opportunity for role-players, such as yourselves, to actively sample our destination with a view to returning home to package trip options and make itinerary recommendations for the benefit of your clients.

“But critically, this convention creates a platform not only for TAFI members to penetrate the South African market but also the African continent as a whole. As the KwaZulu-Natal province we have positioned our province as the gateway to the African continent. It is because of this reason that we are joined by Ministers and representatives from Swaziland, Zambia Mozambique and Seychelles in this convention.

“We should pause at this point to remember that India and South Africa share several close and historical ties … India and South Africa enjoy a sound and long-standing political relationship, both countries are members of the Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa - or BRIGS - initiative and the India, Brazil, South Africa - or IBSA- community and both may broadly be regarded as new world emerging economies, while South Africa is home to the largest Indian population outside India, giving rise to cultural and religious associations.

“The emergence and rapid growth of India's outbound travel flows is an important development in the world tourism arena, backed by estimates provided by the United Nations World Tourism Organization that within 10 years some 70% of world arrivals will come from the eastern part of the world. We believe South Africa - and KwaZulu-Natal in particular – are ideally positioned to play host to many of the growing world arrivals emanating from India, given our close affinity with that country and our vast and varied spread of tourist offerings.

“In fact, ladies and gentlemen, Tourism KwaZulu-Natal's partnership with Emirates airline is the perfect platform for the further development of inter-travel relations with India and provides us with a market opportunity to grow the direct Dubai-Durban air route. You have the opportunity, during this convention, to closely explore mechanisms to develop tourism arrivals from India directly into Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, by way of this important and easily accessed Dubai-Durban air link.

“Emirates airline flies from 10 destinations in India every day and currently operates 185 flights from India to Dubai each week. The Emirates Dubai hub is strategically positioned as a transit point from India. The airline's daily flights direct from Dubai to Durban provide your clients easy entry to KwaZulu-Natal and our slice of paradise, ensuring them access to an amazing diversity of tourism niches, from leisure and business, to eco- and cultural tourism and from sport and adventure to paleo-tourism.

“Now is the time to capitalize on the existing synergies between our countries to India and South Africa's mutual benefit, to your business growth and to the increased exposure of our destination.

“With a membership of some 1 400 members and with your members contributing in excess of 70% of India's outbound tourism business, as well as more than 75% of international ticket business with regard to your national carrier, TAFI is well-placed to impact significantly on the tourism industry generally and on the South African market specifically.

“We consider tourism in South Africa to be a major contributor to employment and the overall South African economy - as well as the country's regional economies - and, accordingly, regard this as a sector with enormous growth potential.

“Let us use this, the 2013 TAFI Convention, to cement tourism ties between India and South Africa. Let us form new and sustainable relationships for the good of tourism business between our two countries and let us seize every opportunity for co-operation for the effective and active promotion of tourism in all its guises.

“We are tied by a common bond, sharing a passion for the travel industry and its impact on destinations. This convention has the potential to forge an innovative beginning for outbound Indian leisure and business tourists seeking new adventures, new sights and scenes - all in the idyllic setting that is KwaZulu-Natal.

“These include, firstly, the vast eco-sensitive and stunningly beautiful iSimangaliso Wetland Park wilderness area, which incorporates a pristine marine reserve, lakes and coastal dune forest, and, secondly, the majestic mountain peaks of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park - a magnificent 'barrier of spears' forming part of a towering mountain range and home to numerous sandstone caves, fashioning unique art galleries dedicated to the ancient San people's rock paintings and depicting an all but forgotten age.

“All this, under a warm African sky, effectively portrays KwaZulu-Natal as something of a unique destination, offering exceptional Zulu Kingdom tourist experiences; experiences which will last long in the memories of both yourselves - as industry insiders - and your clients - the travelling public of India.

“In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, I take this opportunity to wish all TAFI Convention delegates well and every success in your deliberations during the conference, its trade and investment element and the tourism exhibition.

“We feel greatly privileged to be your hosts during this time and trust that you will all enjoy our hospitality and take advantage of the many attractions we have to offer during your stay in Durban and its stunning surrounds.

“I thank you.”

PHOTO: Minister Mabuyakhulu presents a token of his appreciation to Minister St.Ange of the Seychelles / Photo from Seychelles Ministry of Tourism and Culture


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