Minister of Tourism says SA is working with African countries to grow tourism sector at Africa’s Travel Indaba

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Nomsa Dube-Ncube and South African Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille ring the bell for the start of Africa Travel Indaba 2024. Picture: Supplied

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Nomsa Dube-Ncube and South African Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille ring the bell for the start of Africa Travel Indaba 2024. Picture: Supplied

Published May 14, 2024


South African Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille said that South Africa is working on improving its air access to the continent as part of efforts to boost tourism in the country and on the continent.

The minister was speaking at Africa’s Travel Indaba 2024, which officially kicked off at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre in Durban.

“Air access is one of SA’s critical areas where a significant amount of work is needed urgently to improve air access in Africa and for the rest of the world to connect to Africa,” said De Lille.

With tourism being a multibillion-rand sector and contributing significantly to South Africa’s GDP and the continent, the minister said that she and her African counterparts were working collaboratively to improve the challenges of travelling in Africa.

“Throughout my time as minister of tourism I’ve continued to work with various partners in reducing those barriers that deters visitors from opting to come to South Africa and I’m proud to say that there’s been some mutually beneficial strategic partnerships that we have formed,” said De Lille.

One of these mutually beneficial agreements according to the tourism minister is the code share agreement between South African Airways and Kenya Airways that established direct flights between Nairobi and major South African cities.

De Lille noted this has also enhanced accessibility and convenience while also stimulating tourism between the two countries.

The minister also noted that another concern that African tourism ministers face on the continent is ensuring a more seamless visa application system because that is vital to growing tourism.

“South Africa has a visa waiver for 132 countries around the world and is currently negotiating with another 10 or 12 countries. This means that travellers coming from these countries to South Africa do not need a visa for periods between 30 and 90 days,” she said.

The tourism minister said that the department of tourism is working closely with Home Affairs and the Minister in the Presidency to deal and address some of the visa issues.

As it is Africa Month and Africa Travel Indaba is a pan-African show specifically tailored for promoting African tourism products and services, the minister highlighted that when it comes to destination marketing between countries on the continent, competition should be balanced with collaboration as healthy competition can drive growth and innovation in the industry.

“Unhealthy competition can lead to a race to the bottom with businesses and destinations undercutting each other on prices and quality.

“Therefore as the tourism industry, let us consider a culture of healthy competition where businesses and destinations are encouraged to compete on quality and innovation,” said de Lille.

She highlighted that most travellers seek to travel multiple destinations when they visit the continent, therefore South Africa and African neighbouring states are in-fact collaborators and not competitors.

Guinea’s Office Nationale du Tourisme managing director, Kade Camara. Picture: ZamaNdosi Cele

“We also know that many travellers from various parts of the world do not only just want to come to one country on the continent but in fact they want to visit multiple countries in their trip so that they get a full experience of the continent,” highlighted De Lille.

A total of 26 African countries are participating at this year’s travel indaba including Angola, Botswana, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zanzibar, and Zimbabwe with Guinea, Eritrea and Burkina Faso newcomers to the exhibition.

The tourism minister thanked participants for showcasing at the event and promised that South Africans will be encouraged to explore the continent.

Commenting on attending Africa’s Travel Indaba for the first time, Guinea’s Office Nationale du Tourisme Managing director, Kade Camara, said the government of Guinea was in a new dynamic of wanting to push forward it’s tourism sector.

“We have a country that’s very rich, a lot of potential so now we have decided to push a little bit. We’ve been to different events in Europe and this year we decided to start in Africa,” said Camara.

She said that they decided to come and showcase Guinea to Africa because unfortunately not a lot of people know of Guinea so they decided that to participate in whichever event that they can get exposure and promote tourism investment in Guinea.

“We know that Africa’s Travel Indaba is the biggest tourism event in Africa so we decided to come this year and hopefully the following years, so we can meet investors, we can meet travel operators who will be able to add Guinea to their product,” said Camara.

Eritrean tour operator EriNine Sales and Marketing Manager, Gianmarco Russo, was also optimistic about attending the event.

He said he was inspired to come to ATI2024 as his tour operating business was looking a new market.

“We were focusing on mainly Italy but now we are trying to attract more visitors from other countries like Spain, Europe, United States. We receive very few for example from Africa with some visitors from South Africa mainly for fishing and this is why I’m here at the Indaba. I’m in love with the Indaba.

“In my opinion, the Indaba is the best exhibition for tourism all over the world for Africa,” said Russo.