Sometime late in March 2019, The South African Tourism Board sent me an email, inviting me to attend the Indaba conference; which is the biggest travel conference in Africa and also to be a part of a Nigerian delegation to experience South Africa tourism and hospitality at its best.
We left Lagos on the 24th of April, with a late flight and arrived the next day at the OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg and drove to Pretoria, which is roughly under an hour’s drive. Pretoria is a very beautiful city I must say. We were checked into the Regency Apartments and were treated to a two day, five-star luxury experience; it is a lovely masterpiece at Regency. After 48 hours, we moved to the Adventure Zone in CULLINAN. The zone is a massive space where there are a number of outdoor games including but not limited to Zip Lining, Archery, and Quad Biking. It is indeed an awesome place to visit. We were there long enough for us to experience rounds of zip lining and archery.After the activities of the first day at the adventure zone,We came back the next morning for quad biking, which was so much fun as well.
From CULLINAN we headed down to ATKV RESORTS. It is a contemporary resort that is frequented mainly by the white South African populace and the visitors mainly speak Afrikaans. We spent about 4 hours, meeting some of the tourists and sharing our views so far of the lovely views.
We then headed to ENTABENI resort, which I must confess is the highlight of my trip. ENTABENI is an AMAZING resort that is extremely gorgeous. It has a golf course, pleasant natural aesthetics and houses a wild life park. We arrived in the evening, just in time for a Bon Fire night – party organized specially for the delegation and we were treated to an evening of good food, wine, and traditional music sung in Zulu, Afrikaans and other native languages. At the end of the night, we headed back to our different hotels rooms within the resort and were all advised to keep our windows locked as a preventive measure from animal intrusion.
By 6 am the next day, we were ready early and left in the trucks to the Reserve in the Park. This park has breath-taking, mind-blowing and most gorgeous views I have ever seen, where we experienced the safari wildlife. We saw the Lions, the Rhinos, and many wild animals. It was lovely if I am choosing modest words. We also had the water drive, where we drove by the Lake and saw the hippos. We were told to be careful and forewarned that Hippos had caused more human deaths in 2018 than any other wild animal. After a day filled with driving and experiencing the wildlife, we headed back to the hotel at the ENTABENI resort.
The next day we headed to the EUPHORIA golf resorts in LIMPOPO where we spent about three nights to a 5-star luxury treatment. We played Golf, enjoyed the beautiful scenery, and experienced the popular spa center within the resort. On the second day, we decided to visit the local village in Limpopo just to interact with the local. Unsurprisingly, we met a couple of Nigerians, some who had been in South Africa for more than 2 decades. On the final and third day, the organizers threw us another party and the head of Limpopo Tourism hosted us to a private party. The Limpopo province is indeed very beautiful.
Leaving EUPHORIA resorts, we headed back to Johannesburg and boarded a flight to Durban, which was where the Conference proper was supposed to be held. Durban was agog, busy and the whole city was ready to welcome Indaba visitors. There were lovely tour buses that picked and dropped us off at the luxurious SOUTHERN SUN Hotel- it is a long strip of four or five massive buildings and is widely acclaimed to be one of the most beautiful properties in Durban. Later that evening, we came down for the Welcome Ceremony for everyone- a cocktail and networking event that lasted for just under two hours before we retired for the night.
The next morning, there were tour buses that drove us to the Durban International Conference Center- (ICC)the venue for the conference. The Minister for Tourism(Derek Hanekom) was the Guest of Honor and he declared the event open. There were lectures, panel discussions and a speed-marketing session that allowed people pitch their ideas to a cross-section of stakeholders. The first day went by pretty quickly and ended with the delegation spending an evening in the city of Durban
The second day of the event was a continuation of Day 1 and featured different players across the Tourism Industry displaying their products and services. There were delegates from Malawi, Zambia, and Egypt amongst several other countries. Later that day, we had a round table interview session with the Minister of Tourism. He talked about how tourism had contributed to the South African economy using data and statistics. It is worthy to note that the South African Tourism Industry has created over twenty million direct and indirect jobs in the last ten years. In 2018, 0ver 10 million tourists visited South Africa on tourism visits alone worldwide; more than 55,000 Nigerians visited South Africa on tourism trips in 2018. The Minister wrapped up the interview by stating that his Ministry was working with the South African Ministry of Home Affairs to develop an expedited visa service for Nigerians, Indians, and the Chinese because of the number of tourists from these countries on an annual basis.
The third and final day of the Indaba conference was an emotional one as delegates almost did not want the event to end. The South African President- Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa graced the closing event and during his speech, he reiterated what the Minister had told us regarding the Visa regime under his administration. He highlighted his desire to increase the number of tourism visits into South Africa. At the end of the day ceremony, the delegates went into the local towns to shop for souvenirs and gifts. The team took a mini road to have lunch at the ZIMBALI resort. It is another beautiful resort about 30 minutes from Durban city and we were vhosted by the owners who gave us a brief history and rundown of operations of the ZIMBALIresorts. At the end of the day, we went back to the hotel to prepare for our flight back to Nigeria. It was a night to recollect the 10 days we had spent in South Africa as well as assess how well our trip had been.
The next Morning, we left the hotel before 6am to catch our flight back to Johannesburg where we spent 5 hours before catching a flight to Lagos later in the afternoon through South African Airways. The South African Airways and South African Tourism Agency is worthy of commendation, their level of professionalism and customer service is extremely high. I rate this trip a 5-star and do not hesitate to recommend it for anyone .