The African continent’s most highly-anticipated travel trade show opened its doors today to a throng of travel professionals eager to meet, network and consolidate business. Both inbound and outbound travel professionals were welcomed in the host city of Cape Town today with a palpable buzz and excitement.
“We measure our own success on the number of exhibitors, buyers, media and tourism stakeholders that actively seek to attend WTM Africa, and WTM Africa 2018 is no different,” explains Chardonnay Marchesi, South Africa Portfolio Director for Reed Exhibitions’ Travel, Tourism & Sports Portfolio. “We have exceeded our exhibitor record for WTM Africa this year, and this certainly shows in the sensational vibe one can experience when walking the exhibition floor!”
WTM Africa 2018 kicked off its productive intentions at first light in the Mother City at an exclusive instalment of the popular Secret Sunrise.
Working hard to create a stimulating and innovative environment that not only encourages connections, but facilitates lucrative business meetings for attendees, WTM Africa 2018 is a showcase for a number of new initiatives.
“The success of business in Africa rests in face-to-face partnerships and relationships. Exhibitions are an ideal launchpad into business on the rest of the continent. This is why WTM Africa continues to be a premier platform for growing travel and tourism,” says Carol Weaving, Managing Director of Reed Exhibitions.
In a recent exhibitions’ study, it was revealed that there was a 70% increase in brand impact when three or more senses of a person were triggered, furthers Weaving: “WTM Africa allows for a very cognitive experience that engages attendees and creates an environment that is likelier to result in positive business transactions.”
The first day of the exhibition saw the announcement of the winners of the auspicious African Responsible Travel Awards, an event dedicated to profiling tourism and travel businesses set on improving the sustainability of the industry. Winners were announced as follows:
- Overall Winner: Wilderness Safaris Botswana
- Best for Global Goals: Wilderness Safaris Botswana (Gold), Spier (Silver), Basecamp Explorer (Highly commended)
- Best for Decent Work and Inclusion: Spier (Silver), PEAK East Africa (Silver)
- Best Responsible Cultural Experience: Basecamp Explorer (Silver)
- Best for Innovation in Water Management: Wilderness Safaris Southern Africa (Silver)
- Best for Aquatic Species and Habitat Conservation: North Island Seychelles (Gold), Marine Dynamics (Silver), All Out Africa (Highly commended)
The first day of WTM Africa launched the all-new WTM Africa Festivals, a concept that saw attendees experience the world in a fun and vibrant atmosphere. Attendees had the chance to experience the culture, hospitality and cuisine of the host city of Cape Town and network with industry peers.
Important discussions underscored the role of women in the tourism sector at the Women in travel Meetup, while Business Events Conference powered by IBTM Africa explored the potential of the meetings sector in Africa.
The inaugural Tourism Investors’ Forum also examined the possibility for development in both the tourism sector and it’s peripheral industries on the first day of WTM Africa 2018, focusing on the theme ‘Unlocking the Tourism Potential of Africa’.
“The inaugural WTM Africa Investor’s Forum aimed to offer visitors and buyers insights into the various tourism investment opportunities available on the African continent. The growth in foreign tourist arrivals to key markets in Africa also presents investment opportunities. We are honoured to have had institutions such as the City of Cape Town, estmentel Group, Mantis Collection, DSA Architects International, Mauritius Tourism Promotion Agency and the Ghana Tourism Authority participating in this session sharing their experiences and opportunities available for potential investors to invest in Africa,” reports Sugen Pillay, Commercial Director for Reed Exhibitions.
“Following on the theme of opportunity in tourism, captains of industry present at the Travel Leader’s Lunch mulled over how to improve communication and collaboration to foster stronger relationships between the public and private sectors linked to the tourism industry,” explained Weaving, who attended the lunch alongside fellow industry stalwarts.
Alderman Patricia De Lille, Executive Mayor City of Cape Town, spoke of WTM Africa: “For the past three years, local entrepreneurs have exhibited at the City’s exhibition stand at WTM Africa, the continent’s largest international travel industry event. The City has been a proud supporter of the event since 2014 which enables local entrepreneurs to meet and engage with top tourism industry buyers and trade visitors from around the world.”
The second day of WTM Africa 2018 promises another full day for attendees, including the Sports & Events Tourism Exchange (SETE) and the ever-popular Speed Networking event. The corporate travel sector will be highlighted at the ABTA Corporate Travel Forum.