Limpopo Province; Polokwane: Limpopo Tourism Agency (LTA) and the tourism sector in the province is ready for the upcoming festive season after a successful 6th annual Limpopo Tourism Holiday Fair held from 27-29 October 2022 at Savannah Mall, Polokwane.
The Holiday Fair is an initiative by LTA, LPTA, and Polokwane Tourism Association (PTA) intended to position Limpopo tourism to the domestic market. This also aims to give the tourism products market access to showcase their offerings to the local market.
LTA and LPTA, as partners, intend to use the fair as a foundation and building block for the mega-consumer exhibition platform of the province. It is hoped that this platform will, in future, also attract tourism products in the neighbouring countries in the SADC region like Botswana, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.
It is critical for the province to optimize the competitive advantage of its proximity to neighbouring SADC countries.
Key among the objectives of this project were to create a provincial tourism exhibition for the emerging tourism SMMEs and the industry in general; to facilitate and build partnerships between the public and the private sector; to foster tourism marketing and transformation in the tourism industry; to facilitate information sharing within the tourism industry, and to utilize the tourism exhibition platform as both a consumer and trade platform.
The Holiday Fair was preceded by the quarterly provincial tourism forum on Wednesday, the 26th of October 2022, at Tiveka Game Lodge, outside Polokwane. The Forum was equally well attended, with district municipalities reporting on tourism programmes and the state of readiness in respect of the upcoming festive season.
LTA gave feedback on resolutions of Tourism Lekgotla but also provided statistics as provided by SA Tourism. Attendees participated in the discussions regarding tourism development in the province.
The Forum was graced by a surprise visit of the new MEC of LEDET, Mr Rodgers Monama, who encouraged the tourism industry to work hard to create jobs and grow the economy of the province as tourism is a reliable sector. He also emphasized tourism safety in the province.
The session was attended by LTA, Limpopo Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the National Department of Tourism (NDT), Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) National Empowerment Fund (NEF) who all participated in the funding workshop for small medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs).
The three-day Holiday Fair is seen as an opportunity for the Agency to create awareness for the citizens of Limpopo to travel and know their province, but also take advantage of making holiday bookings on time during the upcoming festive season.
The Holiday Fair was beneficial to participants, with presentations by key and relevant stakeholders, who also contributed to the success of the show. Presentations were, among others, done by Mr Glenton de Kock, CEO of the South African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI), Mr Gerhard Franken of LPTA as an assessor of the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa, Mr Tshepo Matlou, Head of Marketing and Communications at Jurni Travel, and Ms Sindisiwe Shezi, LEDET Deputy.
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Director for Registration and Compliance. Stakeholders made presentations on best practices and available opportunities in the tourism sector.
The Chairperson of LPTA, Mr Gerhard Franken, thanked all the partners and the positive response by the tourism industry for making the Holiday Fair a success. “This year’s show has displayed signs of growth and improvement compared to the previous years. We wish to thank the tourism industry in the province for having come in their numbers to market their products to this platform”, said Franken.
Mr Andrew Dipela, LTA Board Chairperson, said, “We are confident that the event will contribute to the conversion of visiting friends and relative (VFR) segment into leisure tourists through a display of offerings on things to do and see around the province that has so much on offer. We would like to thank all the SMMEs who made it to this year’s edition, which was bigger and better than other years”.
As he officially opened the Holiday Fair, the MEC of LEDET, Mr Rodgers Monama, said, “This event is now a permanent feature on our tourism calendar because of its importance, and I am pleased as this takes place even earlier than usual to allow our people to make decisions while there is still time about where in the province they would like to the take their vacations as Limpopo has a plethora of offerings to choose from.
“We have learnt so much during the COVID-19 pandemic that our dependence on traditional international markets (core markets) is unreliable and gradually dwindling due to the economic situation that has been weakened by several factors, including the pandemic. This also affected many economies in the world, and ours was not spared. As this happens, colleagues, we are forced to look domestically, and our people who come from our neighbouring provinces and beyond are our critical market to look at. These are the visiting friends and relatives (VFR’s) that we should transform into holidaymakers to boost our economy”.
LTA is pleased with the success of the show, which is well on the growth trajectory given the number of products that showed interest in the Holiday Fair this year. In total, well over eighty (80) tourism products came to exhibit at this year’s edition.
“This is a good sign of growth and well within the LTA’s recovery plan for the province to reclaim its number one spot as the most visited destination in the country. The province was adversely affected by COVID-19, which saw it move to the bottom of the country’s rankings of domestic tourism. Limpopo is creeping back to its position as the province is now within the top three after Gauteng and Kwazulu Natal according to statistics provided by SAT for the second quarter of 2022/23 season. We are confident that at the end of the two last quarters of the year, the story will be different”, said Mr Sello Maleka, Acting CEO of LTA.