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Month: April 2013

Local and international business leaders will be speaking at the 7th annual Hotel Investment Conference Africa (HICA) to be held in Durban from 8th10th May 2013.

The aim of the conference is to provide a platform for potential investors, developers and operators in the local and regional hotel and accommodation sectors to discuss investment opportunities that exist in the Southern African region. The programme also includes discussions on various issues affecting these sectors and lessons learned from neighbouring countries which have seen hotel investment grow in recent years.

HICA is aimed at business people in the hotel and accommodation sectors, major and emerging; investment groups and other role players and interested parties in tourism sector development. We also invite other product owners in the various tourism sectors such as bed and breakfast owners, and other small establishments to attend the conference.

The Minister of Tourism, Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk , will address delegates on the second day of the conference, and will be joined by his counterparts from Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe in a panel discussion on the issue of achieving tourism growth through regional integration.

To read full article, click here.

Publisher: HICA

Little over three weeks to HICA 2013 – Hospitality Investment Conference Africa, which is convened by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) and the province of KwaZulu-Natal – and the line-up of speakers and panelists is enough to make your mouth water.

One discussion that going to get special attention has to be ‘Bringing Back the Institutional Investor’ (Day 3 from 9:30 to 10:30, and moderated by Joop Demes, CEO of Pam Golding Hospitality).

So I asked Wiza Nyondo, the head of tourism in the commercial property finance division of FNB why his company would even consider investing in tourism in the first place. And haven’t the institutional investors been staying away since ‘08, anyway?

“I haven’t heard anyone saying ‘look, we’re pulling out’ – in fact it’s the other way round,” he said.

“We’re getting more and more interest from international hotel groups who want to establish themselves in South Africa and on the rest of the continent.

“On our side we’ve continued to invest in viable businesses, and so far we’re doing pretty well.

“The decision to invest was a no-brainer when tourism was growing in 2008. In the run-up to the World Cup, when we were the FIFA National Supporter, we decided that getting into tourism would generate the returns that we needed.

“At the same time, tourism was identified by national government as a key sector in terms of job creation and poverty alleviation, and we feel that it’s also a great way of pumping back into the community.

“We did a lot of research into the industry, and looked at both the areas where we could invest commercially, and the areas where we could work on a sponsorship basis. Research, research, research is the most important thing in order for one to be involved, and that’s what we’ve done at FNB.

“The attraction at that time was in bricks and mortar in the hotel space, and in tour operating, travel agencies, and some of the non-branded restaurants.

“And up to now we’ve done pretty well in terms of return on our investment, although it often takes a long time. But you must have the patience, because this is an industry that brands the country, that creates jobs, and that alleviates poverty when done properly.”

And what must the industry do to make you want to continue investing?

“It’s an ever-changing industry, and the industry in South Africa needs to start responding to change.

“If you look at the spending habits of travellers, and the fact that they’re becoming more discerning, you need to be more creative to make sure that we’re not left behind by other destinations.

“People are becoming more ecologically friendly, they’re looking for tours and packages that cater to the needs of single people, and they’re looking for hotels that are disabled-friendly, and that cater to the tech-savvy traveller.”

But he wasn’t implying that those things aren’t happening.

“From what I’ve seen so far, the industry has responded: most of the hotels offer free Wi-Fi now, and more and more of them are looking at their pricing strategy for single travellers. The rooms configuration of hotels is changing, too: in the best case scenario, you offer the kind of contemporary look and feel that we’re seeing in the top new hotels.

“All those things make it more attractive for us.”

“But remember that we aren’t just looking at constantly creating numbers: we at FNB also look at the long-term impact of our investments on society and the consumer.

“There are barriers to entry – it’s not everyday that one can raise twenty million, forty million for a hotel – so the demand, the cost of the land, the cost per room, and the cost of construction, need to be reasonable enough to justify any investment.”

I thought about what he’d said for a while, and came back with just one question: “So the industry needs to make itself more attractive to the consumer in order to make itself more attractive to the institutional investor?”

“Of course,” said Wiza. “If the consumer is responding, we’ll see the returns.”

And that makes perfect sense, wouldn’t you say? It’s a 21st Century take on the old adage about pennies-and-pounds: look after the customer, and the investors will look after themselves.

Publisher: This Tourism Week

Pretoria, 15 April 2013. The city of Durban will be hosting two major tourism events in the month of May. First will be the 7th annual Hotel Investment Conference Africa (HICA) which takes place from 8 to 10 May at the Elangeni Hotel, followed by the annual Tourism Indaba taking place from 11 to 14 May as the Durban International Convention Centre.

HICA, which is convened by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) in partnership with the province of KwaZulu-Natal, is a business to business networking platform which aims to facilitate dialogue on investment and developmental issues in the hotel and broader tourism industry. Tourism Indaba is hosted by South African Tourism, also in conjunction with the province, and is widely regarded as one of Africa’s largest tourism trade shows.

Commenting on the important link between HICA and Indaba, TBCSA CEO, Mmatšatši Ramawela said “similar to Germany’s International Tourism Bourse (ITB) and the International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF), it really made sense to align the calendars for HICA and Indaba to ensure that we capitalise on the synergy generated by both events.

To read full article, click here.

Publisher: HICA

Hotel Investment Conference Africa (HICA) is to be held from 8th – 10th May 2013 at the Elangeni Hotel, in Durban. One of the points that will be discussed on the third day of the conference is the state of the safari industry.

They will be discussing the safari industry to comprehend its present dynamics and look at the possible opportunities of a new product that would give the African hospitality industry greater value.

There will be a number of speakers on the panel including David Bristow (MD Africa’s Finest) Robert More (CEO Luxury More Hotel Group) Ross Kennedy (CEO Africa Albida) and Nic Griffin (CEO Thornybush Collection).

A Business Leadership Award will be awarded at the end of the conference followed by a networking function.

HICA is an established business to business networking platform focused on showcasing Southern Africa as a viable investment destination in the hotel and hospitality sector.

This conference is being held ahead of the annual Tourism Indaba, taking place from 11th – 14th May 2013.  It is one of the largest tourism marketing events on the African calendar and one of the top three ‘must visit’ events of its kind on the global calendar. It showcases the widest variety of Southern Africa’s best tourism products, and attracts international visitors and media from across the world and is being held at Albert Luthuli Convention Centre, Durban.

By: 5Victoriafalls24

Publisher: Victoriafalls.com

What’s a telescope got to do with technology in tourism?

Why should tourism care about a telescope called the SKA?

Bandwidth.

The SKA, of course, is the Square Kilometre Array: the world’s most powerful radio telescope which ten countries are planning to build in various locations in the Southern Hemisphere – and they’ve chosen to locate its core units in South Africa and Australia. And, according to Wikipedia, it’s going to require “very high performance central computing engines and long-haul links with a capacity greater than the current global Internet traffic. It will be able to survey the sky more than ten thousand times faster than ever before.”

(By the way: the cost? 1.5 billion Euros.)

Ray Deftereos, CEO of Hospitality Technology International (HTI), became quite animated when I mentioned the SKA during a chat we’d had about technology in tourism earlier this week.

Ray is going to be taking part in a panel discussion on “Technology as the driver of change and innovation in the hotel industry” during HICA 2013 – the TBCSA’s Hotel Investment Conference Africa, which takes place from the 8th to the 10th of May – and we’d started our own conversation by talking about cloud computing: I wanted to know how it’s being used in tourism, and what impact it’s going to have in the future.

HTI builds specialised management systems for the hospitality industry, and Ray said that its new central reservations and PMS facilities – which will be launched in the coming months – will both be cloud-based.

Although it’s become a bit of a buzzword, the concept of cloud computing has in fact been around since the ‘50s, when organisations that could afford it – universities and large corporations and such – bought blocks of time on mainframe computers which they accessed via ‘dumb terminals’ that had no storage capacity at all, but which had the advantage of being close at hand, even if the computer itself wasn’t.

And at its most basic, cloud computing is still simply a system of storing data in one place, and accessing it from somewhere else.

It’s how the world works these days – think Facebook, which is nothing more than a personal data bank for its billion or so users – and it’s changed everything (even our approach to the way we protect ourselves: as Ray said, “a whole generation of people have traded their privacy for functionality”).

And tourism’s tapping into this: “We’ve gone past the superficial, where it was enough to offer people a prize for liking a post.”

Instead, we’re now beginning to use the technology for real customer engagement – and here Ray thinks tourism has the edge since consumers have become used to gathering and sharing information, and, of course, booking transport and making reservations on line.

“If you’re stuck on an airport because your flight’s delayed, and suddenly you have to find accommodation for the night, you no longer think about calling the office or your travel agent and asking them to make your bookings for you – you use the device in your hand to access a cloud service that’ll do it.”

But the cloud has wider applications – and they aren’t always free.

According to Ray, pay-per-use is still important – just as it was back in the 50s. This provides the business model that makes it possible, say, to manage a chain of properties off a single system, rather than having separate facilities for each individual unit.

And as these applications grow in strength and multiply in number, they’re going to need more and more resources – and this is where the SKA comes in. “The size of the fibre they’re installing to handle the amounts of data they’re going to collect is absolutely staggering.

“I mean, when you’re talking transferring terabytes of information in a second…

“The demand created by that – faster speeds and more storage – is going to have a massive positive impact on the country as a whole.”

… And it’s going to be interesting to hear just what those impacts will be when we gather at the Elangeni Hotel in Durban next month for HICA 2013.

Publisher: This Tourism Week