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This year’s edition of the Tourism Indaba, held at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban, was a truly pan-Africa affair with more than 20 African countries participating, more than 2000 buyers from the world’s tourism source markets and 750 media representatives in attendance.

All were at Indaba to shape the future of travel in Africa together.

Speaking at the official opening on Saturday, May 9, South Africa’s Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom told an audience of more than 1000 delegates that cooperation and partnerships across Africa were the keys to the success of the continent’s travel and tourism industry.

“We are united in our resolve to build a positive brand of Africa as a continent of unparalleled tourism opportunities and to enhance tourism as a mainstream economic sector – a sector of hope for its people.

“We’re also united in denouncing the spate of recent attacks on foreign nationals living in our country. These deplorable incidents of violence do not reflect who we are as a nation or who we are as a continent. We are absolutely determined that our country will always be open to welcoming people from around the world.”

Thulani Nzima, South African Tourism CEO, added that the success of the South African tourism industry was inextricably bound to the success of the African continent’s tourism industry. “Tourism is a collaborative business. In Africa, tourism growth has significant benefits. It contributes to economic activity and job creation and supports transformation.”

Derek Haneko at Indaba

Hanekom added that it was within the continent’s collective power to turn the aspiration of a united, successful African tourism sector into a reality that would bring lasting benefits to millions of people.

He pointed out that more and more people were venturing out to discover new places and experiences, meet new people and learn about their cultures, leaving the familiar behind. “Therefore we have everything going for us as a continent to increase our share of the expected growth international tourism and travel.”

He said that Africa’s unique sites told a compelling story about who we are, and the road humanity has travelled. “It’s these sites, our warm welcome, our dancing and art, and the stories told by our people that connect tourists to the soul of the people of Africa.”

Hanekom also emphasised the essential role exhibitors at Indaba were playing in driving Africa forward and thanked them for their partnership and collaboration.

International arrivals to Africa increased to 56-million tourists in 2014 with further growth of between three to five percent expected in 2015. In Africa, tourism directly and indirectly supports 20.5 million jobs and represents 8.1% of the continent’s GDP. In South Africa, the tourism sector contributes more than 9% to GDP when both direct and indirect spend is quantified and supports more than 1.5-million jobs.