Illa Thompson (the CTO’s publicist) and I staffed the stand over the three open days and networked with some 50 different buyers, tour operators and tourism organization from around the world. We spent every minute available to us selling the benefits of the Valley of 1000 Hills as tourism destination, handed out maps and pamphlets and collected enough business cards and brochures to weigh down a donkey! We participated in 3 media interviews, and Instagram’ed and tweeted like there was no tomorrow.
If I were to sum up Indaba 2022 in just a few words, I would have to say “enthusiasm“, “optimism“, “impatience“. Enthusiasm to get going with tourism already, optimism because there is so much potential, and impatience because we all want bums in beds again!
The world of travel and tourism is opening up again, albeit slowly and buyers, tour operators and tourism organizations are chomping at the bit to get going, there’s a feeling of “we’ve survived the worst and we’re still standing”. We can all remember how wonderful tourism was before the lockdowns around the world and there’s a deep and enthusiastic drive to get back to those fantastic days.
I felt there was consistent interest in new routes, new activities, new experiences. Many tourism products around the world have closed, so the interest in the new products may be driven by old familiar products just not being around any more. But this opens up a world of new promise and potential for smaller tourism products who in the past, would not have got a foot in the door.
There is also a great deal of interest from national tour operators, those that survived the past two years by focusing on local travelers and now are needing more variety for their guests. The focus has always been on the city of Durban and the beaches and Umhlanga, but it’s played out now, South African travelers are looking for more than a week on a beach, and the Valley of a 1000 Hills is perfectly poised to leap into the gap that clearly exists.
Over the next few weeks we will be emailing our members with all the details of our meetings to follow up. There is opportunity out there, we all just need to follow up, work together and drive the 1000 Hills to be the number one destination to visit in KwaZulu-Natal.