Last night, the highly-anticipated Africa Showcase made its second stop in Toronto on a three-leg journey across North America.
In conjunction with South African Airways, South African Tourism and OnShow Solutions, the Africa Showcase featured 28 exhibitors showcasing new tourism products for the North American market.
PAX caught up with the South African Tourism board, South African Airways, On Show Solutions and several other exhibitors to see what's in store for tour operators looking to sell packages to Africa next year.
As Jaqui Reynolds, owner of On Show Solutions points out, the showcase is meant to raise awareness and enhance knowledge on the different kinds of travel solutions that Africa has to offer for operators looking to book African vacations for their clients.
"Africa showcase is designed to be a matchmaking event, where we bring products from Africa, so that tourism boards, safaris, and hotels can come and meet directly with the tour operators who sellAafrica in this region to the Canadian market," Reynolds said.
"We take Africa Showcase around the world, to Asia, Russia, Australia, the UK and other parts of Europe, and other areas of Africa as well to promote tourism to Arica. The whole idea is to generate awareness, and for the operators and agents to learn more about the destination.”
PAX spoke with a representative from the South African Tourism board, who revealed that there is a growing desire amongst Canadian travellers to explore everything that Africa has to offer.
Last year, the amount of Canadian travellers in 2016 was up by 8.8 per cent at 61,179 visitors over the numbers for the 2015 year, and for 2017 the numbers are already up 9.3 per cent through June. At this rate, the South African Tourism board is expecting an upward trend for the rest of the year.
There are many factors contributing to the tourism boom in Africa, but the biggest contributor is that visitors will enjoy a very value-oriented vacation. The exchange rate of the African rand is approximately at a 10.5 to one ratio with the Canadian dollar, so money goes a long way once visitors arrive at their destination.
South Africa currently does not require any immunizations or visas for Canadian travellers and the diverse market for activities, like vast wine regions, museums, fine dining and shopping, and of course, safari, make it one of the most popular destinations in the African travel market.
According to the South African Tourism board, one in two travellers who begin their journey through Africa in South Africa end up returning, making it the perfect starting point for any new visitors to the continent.
Heavy investment in new infrastructure and security by the African governments have also contributed to a rise in tourism for Africa. With more accessible roads, railways, and airways, destinations in Africa are becoming more accessible than ever for North American travelelrs, and as Reynolds points out, people are starting to come to Africa for more than just the wildlife.
"Experiential tourism is coming through very strong. People are wanting more from cultural point of view," Reynolds said. "We are definitely seeing a lot on that side - people wanting to immerse themselves in culture but not necessarily fabricating it; wanting to really experience an authentic approach, so alot of properties are now incorporating ways to offer that."
The Africa Showcase will make its final stop in Los Angeles, CA tomorrow.