SA Tourism is bringing changes to this year’s Indaba show, informed by feedback sessions with the trade. Some of the new features include a day for exhibitors to meet with each other, a new luxury pavilion, an Indaba app and improvements to the online diary system.

Neil Nagooroo, SA Tourism GM: Strategic Events and Exhibitions, shared details about these new developments during a webinar on Thursday, hosted by Tourism Update in collaboration with SA Tourism.

Opening the webinar, SA Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona, said this year’s Indaba would be his and Nagooroo’s first in their current positions.

According to Nagooroo, while the stats show a drop-off on exhibitors, SA Tourism is on track to attract as many buyers to the show as last year.

Nagooroo explained that some exhibitors who took their own stands at previous shows were now sharing. “We are sitting on 770 exhibitors.” He added that there were 886 last year, showing a drop of about between 14% and 15% and that a drop in exhibitors was expected in the current economic climate.

In terms of hosted buyers, SA Tourism will again host 306 buyers. Nagooroo added that with a constrained budget, SA Tourism was not able to host more buyers. The number of non-hosted buyers attending the show was showing growth, he said. “We are sitting at 865 buyers, up from 773 this time last year. Our target is 1 200 non-hosted buyers.” He said SA Tourism was on track to meet this target. He emphasised the value of these buyers, who cover the cost of attending the show because they want to be there.

Commenting on competing trade shows taking place in South Africa, Ntshona, who attended the opening of WTM Africa, said it was great to see people getting excited about this sector and also signing good business.

Ntshona said he had picked up some comments that it was great to see SA Tourism at the show. “Our view is very simple. We support any activity or initiative that helps to drive tourism in South Africa. We are essentially one team, driving a singular goal,” he said, again highlighting the goal of attracting five million additional tourists within the next five years.

Ntshona emphasised that changes to this year’s show follow on from feedback received by the trade. “The team has been going around the country providing exhibitor briefing sessions to many of our exhibitors,” he said.

“We did a very strategic stakeholder engagement,” said Nagooroo. “We listened. We’ve taken those points and turned it into actionable items.” He added that people had been saying that Indaba needed to change and SA Tourism had sought to bring new elements to the show.

Nagooroo said one more luxury product was being brought to the show and would also be showcased in a different way in the Luxury Pavilion. This area will feature cocktails and cuisine prepared by some of South Africa’s top chefs.

A networking event will take place at 18h00 on the first evening of the show, May 16. This follows feedback from hosted buyers who asked for a networking session. Nagooroo said the hosted buyers had 30 meetings over three days, and asked for another opportunity to meet with more exhibitors. There will also be a formal opening on May 16 from 09h00 to 10h00. Attendees at the show are advised to come early to both these events as space is limited. The networking event is open to all attendees at the show and all the hosted buyers will be attending this function.

According to Nagooroo, to provide more value to exhibitors, the day before the show starts, May 15, has been designed as an “exhibitor day”. The day includes two speaker sessions – a seminar on trends and a session lead by the CEO on the market investment framework. Meetings between exhibitors will also take place on this day, something exhibitors have requested.

Ntshona emphasised the objective to achieve inclusive growth. Within this in mind, SA Tourism partnered with Satsa to bring new and emerging players to the show. Ntshona said these SME businesses added “new and differentiated products and experiences to the bouquet that SA Inc has to offer”.

Together with the provinces, Satsa selected SMEs to form part of this programme, which included mentorship and training. The top 10 businesses from each province have been selected to exhibit at Indaba’s Hidden Gems platform.

Nagooroo said a lot of time was also spent cleaning up the diary system, which allows buyers and exhibitors at the show to schedule meetings.

To listen to the full webinar, click here.