OurAfrica.Travel has reported another successful event, with almost 24 000 meetings taking place, connecting 1 177 global buyers to 340 exhibitors from Africa and the Indian Ocean islands.

Co-organiser Allie Hunt says travel bookings are slowly starting to pick up, and that the US market is showing an increased interest in Africa and its open spaces and remote locations.

She says, “I truly believe that the US market will, for the foreseeable future, be the saviour of tourism in South Africa and the rest of the continent. Our exhibitors agree that there is keen interest from the American market and now more than ever before, Africa is seen as a bucket list destination. In many cases, these once-in-a-lifetime trips with loved ones are being brought forward as people all over the world adjust to life in the wake of the pandemic.”

“I truly believe that the US market will, for the foreseeable future, be the saviour of tourism in South Africa and the rest of the continent.”

She adds, “It’s likely that the over-50’s with more disposable income will be the first to travel once they have received their vaccines. This is of particular good news for the luxury travel industry.”

OurAfrica.Travel was hosted over two weeks, from 1 to 12 March 2021, and proved an incredibly cost-effective way to do business. There was no cost to buyers for to attend, and, on average, the cost for exhibitors was only R48/US$3 per meeting.

On average, the cost for exhibitors was only R48/US$3 per meeting.

Additionally, the virtual format has proven to be far more climate-friendly compared to if more than 1 000 participants had had to catch flights to be there in-person. For example, a return flight from London to Cape Town averages 5 848 kg of carbon dioxide, and from Los Angeles to Cape Town 10 644 kg of carbon dioxide. These individual flights require 244 and 444 trees to be planted, respectively, to offset these carbon footprints.

With these benefits in mind, and the risks that Covid-19 still poses, co-organiser Storm Napier believes virtual events are here to stay – at least for now. However, she is also optimistic about the future; “Despite extremely trying times, OurAfrica.Travel 2021 has brought a much-needed flicker of hope and positivity to the African and Indian Ocean Islands travel industry. Exhibitor and buyer feedback indicate there is an increase in enquiries over the last six weeks in some key source markets. With vaccinations picking up pace globally and a combined pent-up demand, the desire to travel is good news for both Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands.”

 

READ: ATTA’s 2021 Travel Recovery SnapShot survey