International trade shows have the potential to not only launch smaller tourism businesses, but also assist them in growing their customer base, forging relations with international buyers, and creating infinite employment opportunities within the tourism and periphery sectors.”World Travel Market (WTM) Africa recognises the importance that small tourism businesses play within the African travel landscape and as such will continue to dedicate efforts towards showcasing these smaller businesses through its powerful platforms,” says Chardonnay Marchesi, General Manager of Africa Travel Week, who furthered that SMME programmes will once again be supported through the City of Cape Town, SATSA, FEDHASA and the Department of Tourism.
Hosted panels during WTM Africa 2017 turned the discussions to how smaller businesses are better off than in previous years and certain technologies have resulted in better market access. “As the demand for experiential tourism grows in source markets,, there is an increasing need for destinations to provide a rich diversity of products and experiences. Disintermediation with the growth of sites like TripAdvisor, Airbnb and Viator has eased market access,” reported Harold Goodwin, WTM Responsible Tourism Advisor.
Goodwin lead a panel discussion centered on various ways in which small tourism businesses can market their unique experiential offerings, as well as the challenges that currently face businesses just like these, including cooperation between the formal and emerging sectors of tourism, should there be a level of certification in place, and what role tourism offices play in the quest to spread business evenly between large and small business. “WTM Africa provides the perfect platform for emerging enterprises from the tourism industry to network and do business with travel trade professionals from over 70 countries. We are pleased with our partnership with the National Department of Tourism, City of Cape Town and our association partners who have prioritised the need for supporting emerging tourism enterprises to benefit from WTM Africa,” says Sugen Pillay, Commercial Director for Reed Exhibitions.
Septi Bukula, Network Founder of SEEZA Destination Network – a full-service destination management collaboration (DMC) that utilises SMMEs, says of the initiatives laid out: “This partnership with WTM Africa, an established and globally respected brand in the travel industry, is of significant strategic importance to SEEZA Destination Network and its members. It speaks to the Network’s highest aspiration, namely, to position its members as recognised players in the tourism industry both domestically and internationally.”
“This relationship will open up the all-important and highly invaluable access to key industry players across the globe, which will undoubtedly unlock significant business opportunities for Network members,” furthers Bukula. Through continued collaboration such as this one between WTM Africa and its partners, WTM Africa will maintain focus on allowing small businesses to be showcased to the international travel trade. Workshops during the run-up, dedicated events at next year’s WTM Africa, and post-show training will enable these small businesses to create and maintain rich, lasting relationships with key buyers in attendance at next year’s WTM Africa.
This article was written by KRISTIE OMAR.