In 2018, for the first time, Boundless Southern Africa (BSA) exhibited at the International Tourism Trade Fair (ITB) in Berlin, Germany. The ITB took place from 7-11 March 2018, attracting more than 110.000 trade visitors from 180 countries, including tour operators, tourism organisations, hotels, lodges, travel agencies, travel media and transport organisations.
Boundless Southern Africa exhibited in the Africa Hall (20m2) and the Adventure Hall (8m2) partnering with prominent TFCAs and partner tour operators: /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) TFCA, KAZA Collection, Return Africa, Tour de Wilderness, WIGWAM Naturreisen und Expeditionen, Wildrun Africa and the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA).
Boundless Southern Africa is a tourism marketing initiative promoting the Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs) located in Southern Africa. With its tagline of “Nature, Culture and Community”, BSA aims to promote TFCAs as unique tourism destinations offering spectacular wildlife experiences whilst also incorporating the cultural heritage of the people and communities residing in harmony in these vast tracts of land.
Southern African Development Community (SADC) Ministers responsible for Environment and Natural Resources, Fisheries and Aquaculture and Tourism endorsed Phase II of the BSA marketing roll-out in November 2017, to include the marketing of all TFCAs in the region.
BSA held several networking meetings with regional and international tour operators, representatives of national tourism boards, international press and travel bloggers, and was given the opportunity to present at the 13th Pow Wow for Tourism Professionals in the Adventure Hall. The marketing manager, Roland Vorwerk, gave informative presentations on the topics of “Diverse sustainable tourism experiences in Southern Africa’s Transfrontier Conservation Areas” and “Cycling with Elephants”.
One vital aspect of successful destination marketing is to have well-developed tourism products. The stunning natural landscapes and attractions of TFCAs have made these destinations the perfect location for the development of adventurous cross-border tourism products over the past couple of years. With the professional assistance and guidance of BSA, regional tour operators have been able to develop and offer cross-border tourism products and itineraries, linking renowned tourism attractions within TFCAs with other unique and remote transboundary destinations. BSA therefore increasingly played the role of a Tourism Destination Marketing Organisation for TFCAs, marketing TFCAs as preferred tourism destinations and connecting international tour operators, journalists and other multiplier with Southern African service providers.
Shona Erasmus, representing Tour de Wilderness, participated at the ITB for the first time marketing cross-border events like Nedbank Tour de Tuli with other TFCA adventure operators in the Adventure Hall. She reflected that the participation at the ITB certainly raised awareness around BSA, the various TFCAs as well as the individual products. “There were a host of operators interested in packages aimed at exclusive travel, smaller group travel and tailor made packages. With the number of events that are already held in the TFCA’s, the market for cross border events is still rich with opportunity”.
Zambia, the Convention and Cultural Partner of the 2018 ITB, hosted a panel-discussion titled: “How facilitation of tourism across international borders can benefit communities”. Prof Dr Andrew Nambota, Director TFCA at the Zambian Ministry of Tourism and Arts highlighted that TFCAs, and in particular Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) TFCA, to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources in ways that improve the livelihoods of communities and reduce poverty in the region. Tourism is one of the most important income generators in KAZA TFCA. By promoting this sector beyond iconic attractions such as Chobe National Park, the Okavango Delta or Victoria Falls, its benefits must also accrue to less developed areas in the region.
Over the past five years KAZA TFCA exhibited on its own stand at the ITB. Shareen Thude, tourism consultant for KAZA TFCA, underscored the tremendous value of being part of a much larger TFCA marketing initiative through BSA. “Boundless Southern Africa should consistently participate at these key international tourism fairs to boost international marketing and foster awareness around TFCAs as a destination for unique cross-border tourism products”.
The participation of Boundless Southern Africa was made possible by the SADC/GIZ Transboundary Use and Projection of Natural Resources (TUPNR) Programme and the contribution of private sector partners co-exhibiting at the ITB as well as Peace Parks Foundation. The participation of KAZA TFCA is supported through KfW. The support of GIZ and KfW are both part of the engagement of the Germany Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in the SADC Region.