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Small travel, tourism businesses get vital platform at Durban Travel Indaba

Durban Travel IndabaSmall businesses exhibiting at the 2014 Travel Indaba in Durban say the trade show, one of the largest tourism marketing events on the African calendar, is a vital platform for them to renew old deals and to clinch new ones.

A total of 24 African countries are being showcased for the first time as the three-day event opens itself up to the continent for the first time. With more than 1, 000 exhibitors competing for attention with flashy stands and trendy gimmicks, smaller operators can easily get lost in the buzz.

A large part of the annual Travel Indaba being held at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre here from May 10 to 12 is without a doubt the individual exhibition spaces which houses accommodation and tour operators, provincial tourism authorities and African role players.

From the smallest Bed and Breakfast to the largest hotel chain, everyone shares the same platform.

Dougie Bester from Cango Ostrich Farm in Oudtshoorn, who has been at the Indaba since 1996, says the Indaba lets him connect with tour operators that drive his business.

“At the Indaba we try to deal with the South African operators who get deals from abroad to see if they can send their clients to us. In the next three months, we have one group coming from India – approximately 300 clients on the day.

Slide4So it’s going to be quite a challenge to us, ” he says.

“If you’re not here even as a small role player like we are; the market doesn’t know about you. It’s not that we really clinch a lot of deals but we’re visible and being visible to tour operators and we get to learn and talk to them…” Annelie Mans from McGlobal Explorers works with local communities around game farms and nature reserves, providing a platform for them to sell their tourism related products back to the game farms.

Mans says the Indaba lets her connect with potential clients faster. “If you look at the beads over here these beads are made by Shangaan ladies in the Kruger National Park – we’ve helped them to develop colours and different kinds of styles…and they can actually sell it back to safari camps and these camps sell it to their clients. At Indaba in three days’ time you meet with an amount of buyers you would only have met in three or four years. So definitely for us it was worthwhile.”

Kobus Latergaan from Kobus se Gat loosely specialises in Afrikaner food, culture and hospitality. Attending his 12th Indaba, Latergaan says it is an absolute must for the business that could come later in the year.

So while the cliché is “go big or go home”, this isn’t necessarily the case at the Travel Indaba as smaller travel and tourism businesses say they want an equal part of the very competitive travel market pie.

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