WTM Africa 2023 reshapes the future of tourism in Africa


WTM Africa 2023, officially opened its doors on 3 April 2023.

The show is back to pre-pandemic numbers with over 5,000 registrations, almost 600 exhibitors, 49 new countries, 200 expert speakers and over 80 hours of content sessions. The event also had 9,200 pre-scheduled appointments, a 35% increase compared to last year. Over 63% of the buyers this year were new and came from exciting markets such as Malaysia, Pakistan, Thailand, Philippines, Romania, Armenia, San Marino and Uzbekistan,

Opening the show, Patricia De Lille, Minister of Tourism, expressed her excitement about the tourism industry’s recovery, saying, “We are all ready to come back with a bang. And we’ve already started coming back.” She stressed that the tourism sector has a major role to play in South Africa and said: “I can feel the opportunity in tourism. In my new role, I will focus on implementation, as it is time for us to now walk the talk.”

Eddie Andrews, Deputy Mayor of Cape Town, emphasised the importance of tourism for the Host City of Cape Town, saying, “We believe in the possibility of Africa. As tourism is an economic driver for Cape Town, we are building a city of hope. Our aim is to create a tourism-related job in every single household. People want to hear stories, and Africa has many stories to tell.”

Carol Weaving, Managing Director of RX Africa, highlighted the statistics when she said: “WTM had 577 exhibitors and 9,200 pre-scheduled appointments. Sixty-six per cent of buyers were brand new from new markets like Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, Pakistan, Romania and Bangladesh. The repeat buyers are from our key source markets.”

Mark Sham, founder of Suits & Sneakers, and a speaker at WTM Africa 2023, said: “We’re back! I will never forget when we couldn’t connect, and will never take it for granted again. In Africa, we sit on the most amazing potential.”

Alongside the opportunity to meet and network, a highlight for many of the international, regional and local buyers included the release of WTM Africa’s annual Trends Report, which takes a closer look at the biggest trends shaping travel in Africa today. With WTM Africa returning to pre-pandemic numbers and exceeding them, the event served as a beacon of hope for the tourism industry in Africa — and its impact on the economy is immeasurable.