Arriving at King Shaka International Airport in Durban for the 2013 Indaba we were greeted with a wet welcome. Rain, accompanied by a biting chill, contradicted the legend of Durban’s warm weather. This meant that the first day of Indaba on 11 May was a busy one, as the prospect of being indoors was a good one. Taking place at the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC), this year was the 34th Indaba since its inception in 1979 and played host to over 13 000 delegates from the travel and tourism sector around the world.
We were lucky enough to have two stands at the Indaba. Inverdoorn was strongly represented at the Dreams 4 Africa stand, where we met contacts old and new and told them about the latest developments at the reserve. The presence of our elephants Bully and Nduna was one subject of discussion. Their arrival introduced the species back into the Karoo and marked our reserve as a Big 5 destination. The other topic of conversation was our baby rhinos Bundu and Livinia and our new rhino orphanage. Our other stand was located on the opposite end of the ICC and focused on our work with rhinos and cheetahs through RhinoProtect and the Western Cape Cheetah Conservation, respectively.
A new feature of the show this year was Indaba Connect, which enabled delegates to exchange information electronically. Although admirable in terms of going green, a lot of people still opted for the old-school way of exchanging business cards and engaging in conversation in order to get a better idea of who and what they were dealing with through personal interaction.
The Indaba is a reminder of how diverse our country is and how much we have to offer, highlighted this year through the strong focus on heritage and culture. It was also heartening to see added emphasis placed on other African countries, encouraging new opportunities and the necessary upliftment of the continent. In addition to meeting plenty of South Africans from across the rainbow nation, we met several people from all over Africa including Nigeria, Angola and Tanzania. Numerous international delegates flocked to Indaba as well. Besides Africa, five other continents were represented and we met a variety of interesting delegates from Canada, Brazil, Germany, China, Australia and many more – constantly reminding us how the Indaba continues to grow and expand.
A hot topic at Indaba this year was the rhino. Those who came to visit our stand were particularly interested in RhinoProtect. It was reassuring to be reminded that people care and are seeking ways of working together to save the rhino. Caught up in the swirl of Indaba, I did not keep tabs on the statistics as I normally do and dreaded returning to the office and finding out the latest figures. Before we left, the number of rhinos killed stood at 293. I was sure that by the time we returned it would be over 300. Needless to say I was correct and the current statistics stand at 313 killed in South Africa since the beginning of the year.
By the end of the four days, the sun had come out. The days were warm and the atmosphere in Durban far more inviting, summing up exactly what South Africa is about. As the Indaba continues to grow, promoting South African tourism, we look ahead with positivity at welcoming even more people to appreciate the magnificence of our country. We seem set to place a greater emphasis on conservation as well, since the animals we strive to save form part of our heritage and culture too.