From Saturday May 7 to Tuesday, May 10, 1 646 exhibitors hustled and bustled to make the most of Indaba 2005, said to be the biggest in its 23 year history. Visitor pre-registration increased by about 42 percent over 2004 - from 2 667 to 3 780 - representing 81 countries. Included is a 100 percent increase in new international delegate registrations from 820 to 1 601.
Previous Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year (ETEYA) winner, Nyeleti Mushwana of Karibu Lodge in Tzaneen, created 27 jobs as a result of her involvement with ETEYA. "My business has flourished since I won the award and it has added value to my personal development as a product owner in terms of professionalism, a business plan development, as well as presentation of my product."
"We have clear challenges ahead of us" says SA Tourism's chief executive officer, Moeketsi Mosola, "We are not interested in window shoppers only, we are interested in signed cheques!"
More than 300 small and medium tourim businesses were told to 'network for success'. Said Dr Danisa Baloyi, deputy chairperson of SA Tourism, "For South Africa to be a globally competitive destination, our micro, small and medium sized businesses need to work together in raising skills and service levels." She reminded attendees that entries for ETEYA 2005, now boasting more categories, including tour operators and travel agents, closes on Friday, May 20.
The City Lodge Hotels Group will be adding three more hotels to its portfolio. The new hotels are scheduled to open in 2006. The hotels are the 106-room Road Lodge Roodepoort, the 113-room Road Lodge Centurion and the 120-room Town Lodge George. The City Lodge will have 40 hotels in total, offering 4 388 rooms countrywide.
North West premier, Edna Molewa, launched the North West Heritage Park north of Pilanesberg. The park aims to bring socioeconomic upliftment to the poorest and remotest parts of the province. The park will link the Pilanesberg National Park and Madikwe Game Reserves over the next 15 years to form one of the biggest and significant conservation corridors.
At the official opening, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister, challenged the industry to break through the seven million international visitor arrival threshold this year. On Sunday he presented the new BEE charter as the blue print for Black Economic Empowerment in the industry. He also announced they his department would be creating a Tourism Satellite Account to generate the most complete information ever about the financial 'flow-through' contribution that tourism makes to the economy.
Mpumalanga and the Western Cape are to develop and promote the Cape-2-Kruger project - to connect the 'beach' and 'bush' experience of the two provinces. Mpumalanga MEC for Economic Development, William Lubisi, met with his counterpart in the Western Cape, Lynn Brown, to streamline the concept.
New CEO of Limpopo Tourism and Parks says "Our strategic focus this year is in the short term, to mobilise the local people in Limpopo to embrace our tourism facilities that will buy into our domestic marketing programme. This will assist our people in welcoming tourists as they visit our shores.
Following Southern Sun Hotels' purchase of the Garden Court brand, most Southern Sun Hotels currently operating under the Holiday Inn Garden Court and Express by Holiay Inn brands will in future carry the Southern Sun owned Garden Court brand. The group also announced that the Rugby World Cup bid committee has appointed it as the official hotel supplier in the bid to bring the tournament back to Africa.
A new hotel on the Panorama Route, Bourke's Luck Hotel, named after the famous potholes, will open early in 2006. The proposed 4-Star property will be the only hotel in the immediate vicinity of the potholes to accommodate the 250 000 annual visitors to the area. The 80 rooms, a 150-seater restaurant with bar area, an 'al fresco' coffee and confectionary shop, gift and curio outlet, as well as large wooden decks and verandas overlooking the potholes and Blyde River Canyon, is designed to reflect and blend with the environment.