Donning colourful blankets and Basotho hats, the Maliba crew attended the third biggest tourism show in the world at Durban’s International Convention Centre in May.
The Tourism Indaba is a remarkable four-day trade event which attracts over 13 000 international delegates from the travel tourism and related industries. We were boosted by the heavyweights with our directors, Nick King and Chris McEvoy, flying in from Australia to join us.
As a new face in the Maliba family and the marketing department, this was my first Indaba and it proved the most invigorating, enjoyable and, at times, overwhelming experience.
On the eve of the Indaba opening, I arrived to look at our allocated stand and was amused by the booming public announcement warning contractors to “stop using saws and angle grinders in the hall immediately!“
I realised then that this was no ordinary tourism show but a major event with no expense or effort spared. Some companies erected houses which made my home feel like a rabbit hutch.
Lesotho had a stand in the SADC Pavilion and the allocated area was shared by a number of companies including Semonkong Lodge, Malealea, Orion Hotel and Maseru Sun. It was there that Maliba set up and created their piece of Mountain Kingdom magic in Durban. Furniture was brought down from the lodge, bright sarongs and even a flat screen television to illustrate the beauty of the area. Two spiral aloes, Lesotho’s national plant, made the long trip to the coast and proved a popular feature of the Maliba stand. If that wasn’t enough we had 4 staff from the lodge sing their way through the day, adding to the ambiance of the pavilion.
The days were long but enjoyable as business was blended with pleasure. Nestle provided us with one of their brand new coffee machines, and this helped us negotiate the long days of meetings with the many tour operators, agents and specialist group members who showed genuine interest in Maliba and Lesotho. Curiously, these semi-formal meetings were somehow completed by the 4.00pm deadline when the coffee gave way to group discussions which surrounded the cheese and wine and proved highly popular.
When strolling between the three massive halls, looking at the different stands and meeting old friends and new, it was patently obvious how excited and proud the many exhibitors were of their piece of Africa. I shared their enthusiasm, delighted to be part of the experience and share their love of Africa.
It was an extremely busy and successful Tourism Indaba for Lesotho and Maliba and, by the end of four days of swapping information and stories, I left the ICC with warm memories….and without my voice.