A modern, cutting-edge INDABA 2013, which significantly enhanced networking connections to stimulate tourism trading between buyers and exhibitors, was the hallmark of the most advanced edition of Africa’s top travel show to date.
Taking a practical technological leap, while staying true to the importance of personal interaction to grow South Africa’s tourism industry, was the standout theme of the four-day show at the Durban International Convention Centre, which ended on Tuesday 14 May 2013.
The ‘INDABA Connect’ platform, designed to facilitate the effective sharing of contact details, product information, marketing collateral and presentations during the course of the show, received extremely positive feedback from many INDABA delegates.
A total of 240,693 electronic connections (over 60 000 per day) were made by 11 458 “INDABA Connect” users, who shared over 14,258 documents. This was a deliberate eco-friendly initiative, a ‘Go Green’ approach at INDABA that led to the potential saving of a small forest of 374 trees by minimising the need for piles of printed collateral and business cards.
A total of 26,000 square metres of carpets were laid for the 1,386 exhibitors at the show this year, as INDABA again proved to be the biggest and most relevant tourism trade show on the African continent. Of the 14,970 square metres of sell-able space available throughout the venue, a total of 14,712 square metres (98%) was sold and occupied at INDABA 2013.
“What was noteworthy at INDABA this year was the impressive quality of the stands and the considerable investment by exhibitors. This was a significant vote of confidence, and added considerably to the quality of the show,” said Thulani Nzima, Chief Executive Officer of South African Tourism.
INDABA was again a chance for major global trade buyers to engage with their pan-African suppliers, tailor-make holiday packages and be exposed to new tourism products.
A total of 2,341 local and international buyers attended the show, up 3% on the numbers who attended last year. The number of independent international buyers attending INDABA 2013 was up 6.86% on last year’s figures, with 1 464 international buyers attending the show this year, up from the 1 370 in 2012.
In addition, South African Tourism hosted a further 249 top international buyers at INDABA 2013, significantly up by nearly 20% on the 208 international buyers hosted in 2012.
As yet unaudited figures indicate that well over 10,000 delegates passed through the show’s turnstiles over the course of its four days.
Media interest in INDABA 2013 surged this year, with 802 media covering the show, 11% more than the 721 who registered to cover the show in 2012. Nearly 200 of them were leading international media, with international media numbers up 23% this year to 190.
INDABA was covered by international broadcast networks such as BBC World, China Central Television and CNBC Africa, while there was also continuous live coverage from the Durban ICC by the eNews Channel Africa, as well as a number of SABC current affairs and lifestyle television and radio shows.
There was also strong marketing and sales representation at INDABA from leading global companies involved in the tourism industry, such as the National Geographic Channel, TripAdvisor,, Expedia and CNN.
Thousands of events, activations and networking sessions were held over the course of the four bustling show days, with Durban hotels reporting good occupancies during INDABA. Around 3,000 formal meetings were scheduled between buyers and exhibitors, using the show’s tailor-made Online Matchmaking Diary.
“We set out first and foremost to entrench INDABA’s value as the continent’s top tourism trade event. We wanted to ensure top-quality buyers, all serious about doing business with South Africa’s tourism industry, attended the show, and we are happy that the number and quality of international buyers increased this year. Working closely with Durban Tourism and Tourism Kwazulu-Natal, we set ourselves the target of hosting 250 top international buyers under the auspices of SA Tourism. We achieved this target and are happy to see that international buyers continue to see huge value in INDABA, which equips them with better insight and the information they need to do business with our destination,” said Nzima.
“We are confident that our efforts to stimulate meaningful engagements between buyers and exhibitors at INDABA was effective and that this will lead to the generation of millions of Rands in tourism business, and tourists, that will contribute substantially to the long-term growth of our industry,” Nzima added.
“I hope the success of Indaba 2013 is not seen only in terms of the numbers of exhibitors, buyers and media attending, but also in terms of the quality of meetings and business linkages forged. This way Indaba will not be seen only as a four-day event, but one that has a positive impact that results in meaningful deals that hit the bottom-line of the South African trade, with long-term spin offs culminating in job creation and an economic boost for the country,” said Tourism Kwazulu-Natal Chief Executive Officer, Ndabo Khoza.
INDABA 2013 was certainly the most ‘digital’ yet, kicked off in exciting style with a Travel Bloggers conference at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on the eve of INDABA which was attended by a full-house of over 300 people.
The conference was the culmination of the #MeetSouthAfrica campaign, which saw SA Tourism host 15 of the world’s top international travel bloggers from the iAmbassadors network. SA Tourism hosted the bloggers on four different itineraries around South Africa, which all culminated in arriving at INDABA in Durban.
Using the hash tag #MeetSouthAfrica, the campaign has already reached a potential audience of over 60 million people and generated over 6,500 blogger mentions since it launched a week before INDABA.
The hash tag #INDABA2013 was also trending nationwide for much of the show weekend, with tweets and other digital platforms reaching a potential audience of 31 million people globally.
A total of 850 direct jobs (including 600 students from the Durban University of Technology) and 5,000 indirect jobs were created due to INDABA over 11 days.
Thirteen SADC countries exhibited at INDABA this year, namely Zambia, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Angola, Botswana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar, Reunion, as well as Kenya, contributing a total of 426 exhibitors to the show, growing year on year.
South Africa’s Tourism Minister, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, announced during INDABA that as part of the show’s growth and expansion plans, African participation at INDABA 2014 and beyond will be gradually increased.
The Heritage and Culture Pavilion, another INDABA first, put the spotlight on South Africa’s heritage and culture tourism experiences and attractions and on the country’s eight UNESCO World Heritage sites. This proved to be an extremely popular addition to INDABA and a cornerstone of the show. The Pavilion was a joint project initiated by the National Department of Tourism and South African Tourism, in collaboration with the Moja Heritage Collection. The Pavilion also featured creations from top South African designers, Nkhensani Nkosi, David Tlale, Marianne Fassler and Thula Sindi, which were all inspired by the country’s world heritage sites.
The three Speed Marketing Sessions, one of the most acutely focused business elements of INDABA, was oversubscribed on each of the three days. The sessions gave around 200 global buyers considerable insight into the breadth and depth of the heritage and culture attractions and experiences that South Africa offers, as well as to its national parks and wine routes.
Feedback from exhibitors and buyers, available in real-time on the popular #INDABA2013 hash tag was positive, with considerable credit given for an exceptionally business-like, high tempo show.
“Last day at INDABA 2013. What a fantastic energy this year!” was a tweet from @ShamwariSafari.
“The vibe in the air is exhaustion. See you all at #INDABA2014. Thank you #Durban,” was another from @TourvestDM, which summed up the feelings after another busy show this year.
“Love how high-tech #INDABA2013 in #Durban is,” was another comment from freelance writer Sarah Khan, while “Bye bye #INDABA2013 looking forward to #INDABA2014,” was the tweet from Wild Travel Magazine.
Rovos Rail, which had considered downscaling its stand this year, was relieved that it had not. “We’ve been very impressed. It was good,” said marketer Joy Strydom.
One of the co-ordinators of the #MeetSouthAfrica bloggers tour, the iAmbassador network’s Keith Jenkins, said the event’s impact would be felt long after the show.
“The #MeetSouthAfrica hash tag has so far clocked up close to 60 million ‘opportunities to see’ on Twitter alone. More importantly, the level of interaction with both locals and people around the world was phenomenal and I’m convinced that interest in South Africa will continue to grow as the bloggers publish their blog posts in the coming months,” said Jenkins.
With INDABA 2013 now successfully completed, preparations have already begun in earnest for next year’s show.
“We will have a thorough review of all elements of this year’s INDABA, and we will work closely with the trade to ensure next year’s show is even better. Registrations for INDABA 2014 will open on 24 May 2013 and we have already seen strong interest and excitement. Given the positive feedback received this year and with South Africa celebrating 20 years of democracy next year, we want to reach out to the industry immediately and reward their loyalty to the event by offering them long-term benefits and structured packages. We will offer sliding-scale benefits that will benefit INDABA regulars participating in the show in 2014 and beyond. Newcomers to the show will also be able to benefit from early-bird packages which we will make available shortly and provide more information on in due course,” said Nzima.

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