Indaba: Sour grapes… and kudos to Wesgro!


Visitors to Indaba at Durban’s ICC last weekend were greeted by posters on the lamp poles around the complex saying “Western Cape welcomes Indaba delegates.” And the Independent on Saturday carried a wrap-around (the newspaper’s outer four pages all promoted Cape Town & the Western Cape).

Wesgro poster at Indaba

Wesgro wrap-around
The wrap-around on the Independent on Saturday

This left Durban Tourism fuming and they launched an unprecedented attack on SA Tourism for allowing this happen.

You can read the full statement by Durban Tourism below, factual errors and all.

Durban’s complaints have been rejected by SA Tourism.

They are just sour grapes at having been caught napping.  The posters and wraparound were paid advertising by Wesgro, the provincial destination marketing agency for Cape Town & the Western Cape, not just the city of Cape Town.

Kudos to Judy Lain, Wesgro’s chief marketing officer!  Wesgro’s stand also won gold for the second year running.

Marketing is all about competitive advantages and, when budgets are really limited, it takes creativity to do good marketing.  I wonder how many Indaba-goers remember 15 years ago how Felix Unite, when he couldn’t afford a stand at Indaba, postered the lamp poles around the ICC?

The number of people who attended Indaba was 9,754, down eight percent from last year.  The number of buyers dropped from 2,019 in 2013 to 1 863 and the number of exhibitors was down to 4,904 compared to the 6,100 in 2013.

Full statement by Durban Tourism:
It was not all rosy for the City of Durban at this year’s 26th travel and trade show, Tourism Indaba, held at Durban ICC during 10 – 12 May 2014. The host city has been left out on key marketing campaigns by South African Tourism (SAT) that seek to promote South Africa globally. The City of Durban, through Durban Tourism, last year launched its marketing strategy aimed at bringing [an] additional 1.8 million visitors with a view to increase revenue from R5.7 billion to R10 billion by 2020, however, it appears that the city will have to do this all by itself, as its partner seems to be on a different path to Durban.

First and foremost, during the launch of the largest tourism marketing events on the African calendar and one of the top three “must-visit” events of its kind on the global calendar hosted in Durban, the city has been snubbed and received just a handful of mentions in the major presentations and marketing collateral that marketed Indaba. Durban’s imagery and branding has not been included in promoting Tourism Indaba and has been left out, and the city’s involvement has not been mentioned in the publication – Indaba Daily News – which is published daily during the trade show. Durban has also been left out in the planning and hosting of trade buyers on [the] Pre and Post Indaba Trade Show.

During Tourism Indaba’s opening launch, it became evident that Cape Town plays a major role in position, and marketing South Africa and Indaba, as it featured prominently on the global marketing campaign. Durban, a major partner to hosting of Indaba has not been featured in the global campaign that seek[s] to attract visitors to the country.

The city of Cape Town, which competes directly with Durban and has hosted a rival trade show – WTM Africa – has been prominently on the South African Tourism global campaigns and has received a prominent spot to ambush Durban – KZN in a platform that has been paid for by the city and the Province of KZN, and this being the event of SAT; they are responsible to authorize and vet marketing materials that make their way to Indaba so that they do not become a prominent feature over the partners who have paid for the hosting of Indaba, which is the province and the city.

Importantly, South African Tourism as the host of Tourism Indaba, did not have a stand at Indaba, which means South Africa as a country did not have a representative in a global trade and travel show.

Despite all of the above, the city of Durban has pulled out all the stops, lived up to its reputation as the entertainment and events capital of Africa, as it hosted successfully [the] Indaba Beach party themed “Ekasi Shisanyama,” which was attended by 3,400 delegates and dignitaries from all over the world. [The] Durban Tourism team worked tirelessly in ensuring that all our visitors to the city get to experience [our] authentic lifestyle.

Durban Tourism held successful trade meetings with international buyers and showcased the city and experiences to the international delegates and media. Most of the hosted buyers come from major source markets namely India, Australia, Botswana, Nigeria, Zambia, and Germany, which are essential to the city’s tourism strategy. The team has ensured that visitors experience the unique Durban Township Lifestyle and experienced the rich culture and heritage of [the] Woza eNanda Heritage Route.

The city of Durban, engaged its key stakeholders with its leadership during the live panel broadcast of CNBC – Africa hosted at one of Durban’s iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium encompassing the theme “Unlocking Durban’s Potential into Africa” with emphasis on investments, events, and tourism destination[s] into Africa, [and] developments in [the] Dube Trade Port and expansion of Durban’s hotel infrastructure.

“It is our view that the city of Durban, as a partner and a host city for Tourism Indaba, maximizes on its investment, [and] showcase[s] the city to key international buyers and media. Our visitor strategy seeks to increase visitors to our city, and Indaba is one of the key trade shows where we are able to show what our city has to offer and what trade buyers can take back to sell our destination. Successful hosting of Indaba carries a positive economic impact of over R140 million, and we remain optimistic that Durban will remain to be the host city for years to come, despite the challenges we have come across this year,” said Phillip Sithole, Head of Durban Tourism.

“Durban Tourism is confident that visitors to Indaba 2014 will take their experiences to the market we seek to target and will result in additional visitors that we seek to attract as part of our strategy,” said Sithole.


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