A very welcoming #INDABA2015

  • 13 May 2015 | Cassidy Parker
At King Shaka International Airport, delegates were met by Welcome South Africa's ambassadors

It was an exceptional #INDABA2015. Exhibitors and buyers attended in force from all over the country, the continent and the world. Topics were debated, meetings were held and partnerships formed. But before all of these interactions took place, came a friendly smile and a warm handshake.

It all begins with a welcoming smile

The Welcome South Africa team was there to ensure that everyone who attended INDABA 2015 felt welcome, at ease and that their needs were met. To this end, we had a number of activations on the go, both before and during the event. 

As local and foreign visitors arrived in the port city of Durban, where INDABA is held every year at the International Convention Centre, they were met by a group of singing and dancing Welcome South Africa team members. 

'It's important for people to see that people in Durban are very friendly,' said one team member, Noxolo Ngcobo. 'Some of them are coming from far away and are very tired; when they see us singing, they are cheered up.'

The Welcome team at the airport greeted visitors with song and dance

Ken and Holly Grossman, of New Hampshire in the United States, were enormously cheered by this welcome. 'It was friendly and welcoming,' said Holly. 'It was wonderful to hear to hear the music. You hear that, and you just feel warm and comforted. It's just a wonderful experience.'

Ken went so far as to record the music and ask one of the ambassadors to write the lyrics down.

Delegates were also treated to a Welcome hamper bag at the airport, complete with typical South African refreshments (think Bos iced tea and tasty biltong). The hampers were there to "make people feel welcome and happy to be in South Africa", said Nonku Sibiya, a member of the Welcome team.

Welcome ambassadors gave our hampers to delegates at the airport

At INDABA itself, Welcome South Africa's ambassador, Chester Williams, embodied the spirit of being welcoming, whether he was on a walkabout with Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom, addressing a room of delegates at INDABA's speed marketing sessions, or greeting friends and admirers.

Welcome South Africa offered delegates a complimentary shoe-shine service, convenient recharge stations for their devices, and, on Mother's Day, which fell on the Sunday of INDABA, a free manicure.

Our shoe-shine team helped delegates to start the day on the right foot

Recharge stations were available to help delegates charge their devices conveniently and safely

Tolulope Ogundipa, a buyer from NIgeria, took full advantage of the manicures. 'As soon as I saw that manicures were being offered, I knew I had to get one before my meeting,' she said, obviously thrilled at the opportunity for a little Mother's Day pampering.

Tolulope Ogundipa, of Nigeria, enjoys her free manicure on Mother's Day

Welcome South Africa also gave away several iPad Minis to exhibitors who were spotted wearing their Welcome pin, and being particularly friendly to their guests. The winners included Bukhosi Mpofu of Khanando Safaris & Tours, Kgomotso Magano of Nare Tours, Moses Mazibuko of Arcadia Tours and Transfers, Lisa Martus of Kurisa Moya Nature Lodge, and Thuli Maleke of Hotel 224.

Without a doubt, the warmth and friendliness experienced by exhibitors, buyers, media and visitors helped to make INDABA 2015 what it was. We look forward to welcoming you back at INDABA 2016.

Lisa Martus (centre back), of Kurisa Moya Nature Lodge, receiving her iPad Mini for being a friendly and hospitable host at INDABA 2015

'Being welcoming means feeling at home even when you’re away from home, feeling loved and safe. We feel loved here at INDABA and we enjoyed our stay,' said Thuli Maleke, of Hotel 224 in Tshwane