SA Tourism is gearing up for two upcoming trade shows. The organisation will be flying the country’s flag at Imex America from October 16-18, and WTM London from November 5-7.

Tourism Update spoke to SA Tourism’s Chief Convention Bureau Officer, Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, about the upcoming events.

“We are heading to these shows to market South Africa to the world as a premier business and leisure destination,” explained Kotze-Nhlapo. She added that the primary objective was to collaborate with local businesses to present the best possible product for buyers.

“We offer the opportunity for local businesses to come with us and showcase what they can offer buyers. If we are able to present a consolidated brand to the world, it will be more attractive.”

Kotze-Nhlapo believes these trade shows are a way for the global market to see South Africa stand confidently against its biggest competitors. She also believes that, for those attending as exhibitors, being among peers and competitors is a great way to learn and grow.

“There is something to be said for face-to-face interaction. It helps build trust with the client and inspires confidence in us as a destination. SA Tourism continues to see the benefit of attending these trade shows each year for us and for our collaborators that we take with us.”

Additionally, each trade show runs an educational programme throughout the event that exhibitors can take advantage of. “These workshops, lectures and seminars allow attendees to keep abreast of what is new in the industry, the pertinent issues in the industry and solutions to universal challenges. It is a great way for those in the tourism industry to learn.”

According to Kotze-Nhlapo, trade shows are also a good platform to help dispel some misconceptions about the country by taking advantage of the media presence. She said some of the perceptions about the country were not always positive, so a face-to-face opportunity to discuss them was a good solution.

At Imex America, SA Tourism hopes to attract buyers in the business and meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE) sector. “Not every show is for everyone. Imex is a specific audience that will attract a certain kind of business that we want to capitalise on.”

Kotze-Nhlapo expanded on the benefits local businesses will enjoy by joining SA Tourism at the show. “At last year’s Imex America, we held meetings with people from all around the world. From the trade show, we made 39 leads. It is a long-term process, particularly in MICE travel, as these kinds of events are planned years in advance, but if we are able to capitalise on all the leads we made last year we would earn our economy R261million (€16million) via 194 conference days,” she said.

SA Tourism offers businesses a number of ways to get involved at Imex. A Main Package will cost a company R94 383 (€5 900) and includes access badges for two people to the event, listing on the Imex America website to assist with setting up meetings, presence in SA Tourism’s catalogue for the event, stand insurance, adverts in the show’s daily news, access to all SA Tourism’s planned cocktail and networking events, WiFi at the stand and daily refreshments.

At WTM London, the focus is leisure tourism and SA Tourism is just as confident in its product. The organisation committed to a ‘5-in-5’ plan, which aims to introduce five million new tourists to the country over five years, four million of which will be international. Kotze-Nhlapo believes WTM is a good way to create some of this growth. “The show is leisure focused and we are able to position ourselves as a premier holiday destination.”

SA Tourism will showcase the country’s natural, cultural and adventure tourism offerings as well as show off new products. With 2018 being the year of Mandela’s centenary, the country’s planned celebrations will also be on show.

The packages on offer to join SA Tourism at WTM London include a full package at R90 000 (€5 600) and a shared package at R60 000 (€3 700). This includes the same benefits as at Imex America. Kotze-Nhlapo notes that SA Tourism has kept the price at the same as last year, despite currency fluctuations and inflation.

For more information or to apply, South African tourism business owners are encouraged to contact Mmabatho Sikhakhane at or call her on +27 11 895 3079. Applications for WTM close on Friday, July 13, and for Imex America on Friday, July 20.