South Africa’s appearance at the Fitur Madrid (International Tourism Trade Fair) 2023 held at the Ifema trade fair centre of Madrid (Spain), which ended last week, was a triumph for Team South Africa.
Fitur is the global meeting point for tourism professionals and the leading trade fair for inbound and outbound markets in Latin America.
It is known as one of the year’s first appointments, bringing together diverse tourism professionals worldwide to showcase their wares during an important booking cycle in the Europe tourism value chain.
The 2023 fair was attended by over 600 exhibitors and official representatives from 70 countries (including tourism ministers from 21 countries).
“FITUR 2023 was a resounding success and a platform where we once again showcased South Africa’s unique experiences and readiness to welcome visitors from across the globe,” said the South African Tourism (SAT) regional general manager: Europe, Ian Utermohlen.
“We conducted 25 high level meetings and discussions at the South African Tourism exhibition stand, with the intention of fostering meaningful relationships in the market. This saw us amongst others engage with Real Madrid and the Committee of Tourism Film Festivals on potential collaborative efforts in the Spanish & South African Markets”.
South Africa’s strong contingency of exhibitors included Joburg Tourism, Amazing Africa, Ates Africa Safaris & Tourism, Catalina Tours SA, Aquila Collection and AM Lodge | Luxury Safari Lodge.
Among the South African exhibitors at the #FITUR2023 were three SMMEs, Kwanda Voluntourism, Timeline Travel & Evo Trak Quad Safaris who valued the opportunity to participate on this global tourism platform. “A part of driving transformation in the industry and opening up market access for the emerging operators, it is imperative that we elevate and expose SMMEs to our Europe Tourism value chain like FITUR,” he insisted.
On 19 January, South African Tourism hosted a press conference that garnered great response and enthusiasm from 30 Spanish media and trade stakeholders that were in attendance. “Our objective was to bring the Spanish media into our confidence and ignite excitement with the processes and thinking behind our in-market demand work, the importance and value of the south European markets, while showcasing our exceptional performance” Mr Utermohlen emphasised.
South African Tourism’s stand in Madrid welcomed up to 495 quality visitors who engaged with exhibitors & delegates while enjoying biltong and some quality South African wines, The Golden Kaan Shiraz and Delheim Chenin Blanc.
One of the observations that came from many of the exhibitors on the stand was that they (exhibitors), are seeing shorter lead times for business — meaning, all the business that is coming their way is for either this year or next year.”
“This indicates how eager people are to host their conferences and bring incentive trips to South Africa, shortly. This is a shift from the pre-Covid-19 environment as lead times were much longer,” he re-emphasised.
Mr Utermohlen believes South African Tourism’s relentless Europe marketing efforts are beginning to bear fruit as buyers who visited South Africa stand in Madrid were confident in selling South Africa to their customer base.