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South African Tourism sets sights on Arabian Tourism

28 April 2023, United Arab Emirates (UAE), (Dubai): South African Tourism continues to find strategic opportunities to fast-track the sector’s tourism recovery. The Arabian Travel Market is one platform, as it brings together global tourism decision-makers, industry experts and thought leaders to unlock the sector’s potential.

Now in its 30th year, the tradeshow will take place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from 1 to 4 May 2023.

Zinhle Nzama, the Acting Chief Convention Bureau Officer at South African Tourism says that South Africa’s presence at the Arabian Tourism Market “marks a significant milestone in South Africa’s journey towards economic revival and tourism rebound.”

“Participating at this trade show is a great opportunity that cannot be missed,” Nzama said matter-of-factly.

She added: “It was critical for us to return to ATM again because last year was a huge success for the exhibitors that attended, and ultimately a big win for South Africa’s tourism sector. Last year, the South African delegation came back with over 37 leads, most of which were converted into business.”

As part of ATM last year, South African Tourism entered into an MoU with Emirates Airlines which has, amongst others, seen the airline flying 49 weekly flights into South Africa. These numbers are at pre-pandemic levels and signify how South African Tourism continues to leverage these international trade shows.

This year, South African Tourism is taking 19 exhibitors to ATM, including 14 products and experiences and 5 SMMEs.

“Our exhibitors are carefully selected to ensure that they specifically meet the needs and preferences of the Middle Eastern travellers looking to come and explore South Africa,” adds Nzama.

She said tourism is a vital part of South Africa’s economic recovery grand plan dubbed the South African Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.

She emphasized, “International travel and tourism trade shows provide an opportunity for South African tourism enterprises of varying sizes to strike impactful, lasting partnerships and even ink fruitful collaboration contracts.”

“We are committed to diligently executing our strategies to achieve the ambitious targets we have set ourselves, including 21 million arrivals by 2030 as per the National Development Plan’s (NDP) injunction,” she stated.

In 2022, tourism contributed 3.7% towards South Africa’s GDP, surpassing agriculture, utilities, and construction contributions.

Tourism also plays a vital role in providing sustainable employment opportunities. As per the 2021 employment statistics, the travel and tourism sector in South Africa employed nearly 1.08 million people.

According to Nzama, the Arabian Tourism Market presents a significant chance for South Africa to promote its destination directly to its important source markets in Asia, Australia, and the Middle East.

The region, she revealed, has seen healthy incoming visitor numbers in recent years, which South Africa aims to cultivate and nurture.

She added that last year, “South Africa attracted 5.7 million incoming international visitors between January and December 2022.”

The latest numbers from the Middle East indicate a strong recovery in tourism. In December 2022, there was a significant increase of 223.1% compared to the previous year, with a total of 40,628 arrivals.

Israel was the most significant source market, with 17,427 visitors, followed by Saudi Arabia with 11,464 and the United Arab Emirates with 3,100.

Other countries in the region also contributed a healthy 8,637 visitors.

South Africa, Nzama added, believes that there is more room for growth not just in this region’s contribution but in the overall global figure of wanderlust-seekers who heed its message to come to South Africa and “Live Again.”

International trade shows such as ATM are part of the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) sector, which South Africa has identified as one of the growth levers in the post-COVID-19 pandemic era.