The Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (Satsa) and South African Tourism are ensuring that there will be a strong focus on and participation by emerging businesses at this year’s Satsa Conference.

The conference, hosted in partnership with SA Tourism, is taking place at the Wild Coast Sun from July 9-11. Thirty-eight emerging businesses from South Africa’s nine provinces will be represented at the conference and were selected from the Department of Tourism’s tourism incentive programme.

One of the tourism industry’s biggest networking platforms, the conference will ensure that small enterprises just entering the sector have direct exposure to the industry and its issues, and are given the opportunity to network with experienced industry players.

SA Tourism will support the travel and accommodation costs for the emerging businesses to attend, and Satsa will sponsor the conference attendance fee.

This year marks the association’s 50th celebration. Attendees can expect a more modular format, insights and new approach to networking. It is also the first year that members of the South African Youth Travel Confederation, which recently merged with Satsa, will be in attendance.

“The tourism industry in South Africa needs to be an inclusive industry for all,” said SA Tourism CEO, Sthembiso Dlamini. “The Satsa conference is crucial for exposing our emerging businesses to the larger tourism industry, and having them in attendance speaks to one of our goals of transforming the industry, so that historically disadvantaged South Africans benefit from the sector as well.”

“The growth of the tourism Industry is strongly reliant on the development and knowledge expansion of the SME sector,” says Satsa CEO, David Frost. “Growing SMEs’ businesses is how we introduce diversity and variety into our sector, which helps ensure we keep offering our visitors the selection of unique tourism products and services they seek.”

To this end, Satsa has been active in similar initiatives such as the Limpopo High Flyers’ Programme, which it piloted with Limpopo Tourism.

The programme identified 13 relevant provincial products and assisted them with their tourism and marketing development needs to ensure a successful introduction to a large and established trade.