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The inaugural Africa Travel Week – set to open on Monday 28 April – will deliver more than 30 industry related debates, forums, conferences, seminars and lectures in what is seen as the first pan-African tourism week to be staged in the country.

Taking place at the CTICC Cape Town, the scope and depth of subjects covered will cover the entire leisure, b2b and luxury travel industries focused on Africa as a destination for both outbound and inbound sectors.  An international line up of speakers delivering a diverse range of current and future industry topics will provide an outstanding key learning and knowledge platform for Africa’s travel trade as well as international buyers.

The week kicks off with ILTM Africa (28 – 30 April), its second dedicated event in Africa for the luxury travel industry, where the continent’s leading luxury travel products and services will meet with the world’s individual planners of bespoke travel itineraries, as well as the specialist tour operators attending as Hosted Buyers from 25 countries.

ILTM Africa’s Opening Forum will feature two live debates led by some of Africa’s leading industry figures and the world’s foremost editors of luxury travel media. Anita Mendiratta, an independent International Strategist and Advisor on Tourism and Economic Development will set the scene, addressing what is ‘luxury’ in the context of African travel. Justice Malala, one of South Africa’s most well-known political analysts and talk show hosts will also speak.

The ‘Meet the Editors’ panel will include Maria Shollenbarger, editor-at-large, Conde Nast Traveler US and Travel Editor of the UK’s FT How to Spend it and Divia Thani, Editor of Conde Nast Traveller India.  This will be a unique insight into how such influential publications decide on their luxury travel features including advice on what prompts them to visit a property, set up a photo-shoot or decide who features within their annual hot lists?  These Editors join a list of 14 renown editors from 7 countries – the only luxury travel event in Africa they have chosen to attend this year.

‘Leading the Way’ will focus the debate on conservation.  Bringing together two of the continent’s leading guides including Botswana’s Map Ives of Wilderness Safaris and South Africa’s Juan Pinto, Director and Head Ranger at Royal Malewane Lodge.  In addition to highlighting their own experiences, the session will focus on one of the key issues facing African luxury travel today: the importance of preserving the continent’s indigenous nature, including the big 5, ecosystems, flora and fauna.  For more information, please see www.iltm.com/africa.

The b2b meetings industry event IBTM Africa, which also takes place from April 28 – 30, will also kick off with its own Forum, where motivational speaker Alex Granger will deliver a keynote session entitled “Moments of truth – Business thinking and doing!” Granger has worked in senior management and executive positions for Imperial Group, Bidvest and Diners Club International. In his presentation, Granger will share nine practical steps to ensure business remains sustainable in 2014 and beyond, illustrating the importance of not only a change in mindset, but a change in behavior, a focus on winning, protecting business brands and making staff and customers loyal partners.

Following a networking break, the second half of the IBTM Africa Forum will feature a panel debate on the future meetings industry growth in Africa.  The panel discussion including experts from SITE, ICCA and SAACI will provide an overview on how the meetings industry is growing in Africa, as well as offering insights and perspectives from both the association and incentive industries. For more information, please see www.ibtmevents.com/ibtmafrica.

Africa Travel Week concludes on 2 and 3 May with WTM Africa and a leading event programme will take place during the two days of the show. Kicking off the official event programme will be the first ever WTM Vision – Cape Town, featuring a Euromonitor Regional Trends Report and an exciting keynote session delivered by the Digital Tourism Think Tank.

The dedicated WTM Africa Responsible Tourism Programme will form a key component of the education sessions offering a key industry platform to debate issues of sustainability on the continent. ‘Responsible Tourism: Environmental Responsibility’ features amongst others speakers Wilfred Cheval of Dyer Island Cruises and Marine Dynamics and Dr Anne-Kathrin Zschiegner of the Zeitz Foundation who will share success stories; ‘Responsible Tourism: Good Business’, featuring Fabrice Leclercq, CEO T.R.I.P Ghana, Agams Group and Heidi Van der Watt, Director ICRT South Africa will offer a lively debate on how businesses can benefit from adopting sustainable business models. There will also be a dedicated session on ‘Social Responsibility: Child Protection’ with speaker Anne van der Tuuk of Abang Africa Travel.  Abang believes that the industry should stand together to create awareness, protect and prevent child abuse in travel.

Business travel is also a focus at WTM Africa: the African Business Travel Association (ABTA) will host sessions on the broad range of developments, challenges and opportunities that are revolutionising the African business travel industry today and features talks from Dr Roderick Ross of TravelLinck and Olufemi Adefope of HRG Nigeria.  The latest trends in travel technology will also take centre stage, with the Digital Tourism Think Tank providing discussion and insights on these important travel industry issues, including the ‘Mobile Revolution in Tourism’ and ‘Digital Trends and Challenges in Focus’.

Overcoming the educational challenges faced by the tourism industry will be a dedicated panel headed by Kamilla Swart, Associate Professor from the Department of Tourism and Events Management at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and will draw on experiences from the public and private sectors as well as academics. The panel will feature Kwakye Donkor of RETOSA, Professor Ernie Heath of the University of Pretoria, Jacqui McKnight, ASATA and Professor Urmilla Bob of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. In addition, Travel Bloggers Unite will bring a dedicated blogger programme to WTM Africa, featuring some of the most influential travel bloggers in Africa

Carol Weaving, Managing Director of Thebe Reed, organisers of Africa Travel Week commented: “The Africa Travel Week Education Programme will bring inspiration to all involved in luxury travel, MICE and business travel and general leisure tourism in Africa.  We are delighted to welcome such a high profile breadth of speakers from across the world to what promises to be a key learning opportunity for those involved in the burgeoning industry of African travel. We believe Africa Travel Week has created the most valuable and insightful agenda to give the travel industry a new and fresh approach to help them develop their businesses both regionally and internationally.”

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