Buyers flock to first Africa Travel Week

A South African artist at the South Africa stand at a previous World Travel Market in London. (Carl de Souza, AFP)
A South African artist at the South Africa stand at a previous World Travel Market in London. (Carl de Souza, AFP)
Cape Town - Tourism in South Africa and Africa is in the spotlight in Cape Town this week thanks to the first Africa Travel Week at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).

It is organised by the international companies Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE) and World Travel Market (WTM) as their flagship event in the African.

Africa Travel Week will target Africa’s inbound and outbound markets under RTE’s established portfolio brands of WTM (World Travel Market), ILTM (International Luxury Travel Market) and IBTM (Incentives, Business Travel & Meetings).

The organisers want to emulate the success their sister events, WTM (which has taken place in London for the past 53 years), and WTM Latin America.

“Africa Travel Week is essentially bringing global brands to South Africa,” Sugen Pillay, business development director at Thebe Reed Exhibitions, told Fin24.

“We are matching the right buyers with the right sellers in what could be regarded as the first event of its sort and scale in South Africa and Africa. Our aim is to bring more tourism business to Africa.”

ILTM has attracted about 80 international buyers looking for partners in the luxury tourism sector in Africa and South Africa, while IBTM has attracted more than 46 international buyers in the incentives and business travel market, said Pillay.

So far more than 6 000 meetings have been pre-arranged for these international buyers during the week.

On Friday and Saturday tourism offerings from 47 countries will be showcased to 300 international buyers at WTM Africa.

“They all have pre-arranged meetings set up and won’t just be strolling around aimlessly on the floor of the expo,” Pillay explained.

“More than 4 200 visitors have already pre-registered for the event. They are mainly senior trade professionals in the industry, who want to do business with South Africa and African tourism products on offer.”

So far the feedback Pillay has received is very positive.

Cape Town

Pillay said Cape Town was chosen to host the event since it is internationally known as a destination for luxury and leisure tourism.

“Global brands are now taking more and more interested in Africa. It is not always affordable for African tourism products to go to WTM in London, so now they can have a similar event right on their doorstep,” said Pillay.

“We think this WTM Africa has the potential to become much bigger. We have a three year agreement with the City of Cape Town and anticipate the event will grow over the next few years.”

It is anticipated that tourism arrivals in Africa will grow by 4.8% over the next few years, said Pillay.

This is as emerging economies are starting to develop faster and the potential for travel by the growing middle class increases. This brings opportunities for international players and benefit for Africa.


The organisers of WTM Africa have been in discussions with South African Tourism to see how they could work together, but at this stage the annual tourism indaba in Durban still remains a separate event.

“We want to grow tourism in Africa and we want to focus on the type of international buyers who have not been to South Africa and Africa before,” said Pillay.

“The ideal would still be for Indaba and WTM Africa to merge, but those discussions are still continuing as we could like to work with SA Tourism. At the moment it is, however, still difficult to say what will happen in this regard.”

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