Local tour operators reveal why Mzansi should support tourism at Africa's Travel Indaba

South African Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille exploring some of the products on offer at Africa’s Travel Indaba. Picture: Supplied

South African Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille exploring some of the products on offer at Africa’s Travel Indaba. Picture: Supplied

Published May 16, 2024


The core business of Africa’s Travel Indaba (ATI), is connecting tourism service providers and their products with international buyers. These buyers then package and sell these experiences to travellers around the world.

Although the focus may be on highlighting South Africa as a destination, domestic travel is also important.

Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille and many local service providers highlighted that domestic travel kept the industry alive during the pandemic while ‘revenge’ travel also played a role in reviving the domestic travel market following Covid.

Proving the importance of domestic travel, South African Tourism launched its Sho’t Left Travel Week Campaign at ATI and opened registration for tourism businesses to showcase and list their travel deals on its website.

According to South African Tourism’s Head of Domestic Tourism, Mashoto Mokgethi, Sho’t Left was launched to promote local travel in South Africa.

“We know that affordability in travelling South Africa is an issue, which is why we then launched Travel Week five years ago. Travel Week is our Black Friday of travel so if you book between the 2nd and the 8th of September, you get up to 50% off of your travel,” said Mokgethi.

She said that Sho’t Left’s objective at Travel Indaba is to attract South African tourism service providers to partner with them.

Mokgethi highlighted that the country has plenty of hidden gems for South Africans to discover and the partnership, offering affordable deals, is the bridge which will enable South Africans to enjoy affordable domestic travel.

In a bid to highlight and promote travel in the country, here are some service providers and their products from around the country showcasing at Africa Travel Indaba.

Camping in the Free State

Barbie Makappa, Ebo Senamela and Phomolo Makappa from Canvas Republic at Africa’s Travel Indaba. Picture: ZamaNdosi Cele

For adventurous South Africans looking to explore the outdoors in Mzansi and the Free State, Canvas Republic is a service provider in the business of creating pop-up campsites, tent rentals, camping parties, school camps and team building camps.

According to Phomolo Makappa, they’ve worked with Free State Tourism and MTN Bush Fire music festival in providing camping solutions.

“Our claim to fame is that everything we do, we do it inside a canvas tent,” he said.

He highlighted that they provide a variety of tents, including luxury tents, at various campsites around the Free State, including Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve and Gariep Dam.

Makappa also said though they are not a destination, they also host camping experiences and music festivals in the Free State such as Camper’s Assembly for those who love camping in November.

Wine and culture experience in Johannesburg

A variety of Lumco Wines with a ceramic calabash for drinking. Picture: ZamaNdosi Cele

Although the winelands are found in the Western Cape, such as the wine regions of Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, South African oenophiles in Johannesburg looking to enjoy local wine and culture can experience this in Muldersdrift and Midrand with Lumco Wines.

According to the winery’s founder, Lucia Motloung, they use their wine brand to promote African culture and preserve African heritage.

“So how we do that is that we work with different royal families and we name our wines after different kings and queens and we approximate their characters to the characters of the grapes,” said Motloung.

She also highlighted that with their wines, they don’t use wine glasses, however, they take it a step further and use modern calabashes as a way to also bring back olden ways of doing things in a modern society.

The calabashes are ceramic and can be personalised or engraved in gold lustre.

Travellers can enjoy white wine under a wild fig tree in Midrand with entertainment and food, or they can opt for a wine tasting experience in Muldersdrift where they share a wine cellar with restaurant Carnivore.

“There you get to pair our wines with meats such game meats and crocodile. You can get to experience Africa in its authenticity through food, through music, through dance, through wine as well,” said Motloung.

Affordable luxury safari in Hluhluwe

Anew Hotel and Resort’s Alan Campbell at Africa’s Travel Indaba. Picture: Supplied

It’s no secret that the Kruger National Park and Greater Kruger is the safari capital of South Africa, however, for an affordable experience, South Africans should consider Hluhluwe.

According to Alan Campbell from Anew Hotels & Resorts Hluhluwe is one of South Africa’s hidden gems.

“Hluhluwe is incredible from a wildlife perspective and access to Zululand, the heritage, the culture, the animals. It’s much more comparable to Kruger on the wildlife side but a lot more affordable, a lot more accessible and a lot less people,” said Campbell.

Anew Hotels and Resorts has two properties in Hluhluwe that provide accommodation, Anew Hotel and Anew Lodge Hluhluwe.

Both these hotels provide game drives straight from the hotel to Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park, Zulu dancing every evening, boma dinners underneath the stars with a bonfire, and crocodile and hippo tours on St Lucia Lake.

On why South Africans should explore Hluhluwe, he said that the country has so many beautiful places to visit.

“I think from an affordability perspective, we’ve seen during Covid and the period just after that the rise in domestic leisure travel was huge and people had an appetite to explore and get out their homes.

“I think we’re only just starting to uncover what we have as a country and we have one of the best products in the world,” said Campbell.

Big 7 experience in the Eastern Cape

Another hidden gem that has plenty of attractions for South Africans to enjoy is the Addo Region in the Eastern Cape.

According to Addo tourism consultant, Salome Clack, the region encompassing Addo, Colchester, Kirkwood and Paterson in the Eastern Cape is the only place in the world where you can experience the Big 7 - elephant, rhino, buffalo, leopard, lion, great white shark and southern right whale.

The destination is suitable for solo travel and multi-generational travel as it has something for everyone.

She said that travellers can choose between rustic camping, luxurious reserves or quaint farm stays while also indulging in traditional cuisines and adrenaline-fuelled adventures.