Breaking Travel News Interview: Joburg plays host to youth forum

Breaking Travel News Interview: Joburg plays host to youth forum

The Johannesburg Tourism Company (JTB), which was nominated for World’s Leading Tourist Board, while its remarkable Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site was nominated in the category of Africa’s Leading Attraction by the World Travel Awards, recently announced that it will play host to the high profile youth forum, One Young World in 2013.

JTC, which was ‘thrilled, delighted and ecstatic’ to be named host for this prestigious event, is successfully positioning itself as a buzzy, year-round destination for signature events, lifestyle, the arts, culture, fashion and sports.

Lindiwe Kwele, Chief Executive, Johannesburg Tourism Company, explains to BTN what it is that makes this vibrant destination an ideal host for such a wide range of international events.

BTN: Can you comment on the significance of hosting One Young World in 2013?

LK: This is a significant, high profile global event with substance, which is supported and patronised by international leaders and luminaries like Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Muhammad Yunus and Sir Bob Geldof, to mention a few.  As such it is an honour to bring this event to Africa and for our city and country to benefit from the positive media coverage and associated spinoffs.

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What differentiates One Young World from other youth summits is that young leaders are making real-time, tangible change the world over, and being recognised for their efforts. Young people from all walks of life are leveraging the power of their networks – educational institutions, government, the corporate world, religious organisations, NGO’s - and the corporate world, governments and esteemed global leaders are behind their efforts and solutions.  One Young World is a brilliant network of extraordinary shared accountability, a rare and unique platform to engage the world’s youth on what matters now, and what will matter the most, tomorrow.


(JTC celebrate alongside four students whom they have nurtured since high school as part of their youth development programme)

BTN: Why is it such an important event for Africa and Johannesburg?

LK: Clinching the event for Johannesburg and Africa is important on so many levels. Africa is the continent which has the largest proportion (20%) of youth - as a demographic component of population – and it would be significant to host this event on a continent which so many young people call home and which presents so many opportunities and challenges.  As a city, Johannesburg is a youthful one, with 42% of the population under 24 and 49% under the age of 34, making for a vibrant, energetic and enterprising community.

In keeping with this demographic, South Africa’s commitment to youth development is significant, demonstrated by a host of youth development initiatives supported by both the public and the private sector. From a national perspective, South Africa boasts youth participation and representation in Parliament, while at a city level, Johannesburg has community-based youth advisory centres, managed from the Mayor’s Office.


(Johannesburg has taken its place as a global hub)

What makes Johannesburg a fitting destination to play host to this event?

LK: As the African continent’s most accessible hub and vibrant business locations, Joburg makes sense as an appropriate destination to inspire youthful leadership, networking and brainstorming solutions to issues across the spectrum – from healthcare, development, finance and business – to social issues and politics. 

Aside from this, Joburg boasts a fabulous infrastructure, a diverse range of accommodation and conferencing facilities and fascinating tourist attractions, leisure and lifestyle options.  Moreover, when it comes to hosting large, high-profile international events, Joburg has an excellent track record.  The City has successfully hosted a number of international congresses, exhibitions and special events, including The World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, the International Cricket Federation World Cup in 2003 and of course the 2010 Soccer World Cup.  Johannesburg was the epicentre of this magnificent spectacle,  hosting the cream of the tournament fixtures and associated events.


(Lindiwe Kwele collecting a trophy for Africa’s Leading City Tourist Board in 2009, presented by Graham Cooke, President of the prestigious World Travel Awards)

BTN: In what ways does hosting events such as One Young World fit into the JTC’s strategy?

LK: This aligns perfectly with JTC’s topline strategy to entrench Joburg within the global business tourism market as a destination of choice for conventions, meetings, incentives and mega-events. Tourism remains an economic growth imperative on both the country’s and the City’s agenda. It is an important catalyst to encourage the growth and development of the economy, along with job creation, transformation and redistribution. 

It is the Johannesburg Tourism Company’s mission to attract visitors to our city, encourage them to stay longer, spend more, improve seasonality patterns and the spread of visitors across the City.  As the City’s destination marketing organisation, JTC therefore remains focused on positioning Johannesburg not only as the continent’s leading business hub, but also as an exciting, vibrant year-round destination for signature events, lifestyle, the arts, culture, fashion and sports.


(Joburg Fashion Week)

BTN: What major plans and tourism developments are in the pipeline for Joburg in 2011?

LK: Tourism remains an economic growth imperative on the City of Johannesburg’s agenda, an important catalyst to encourage the development of the SMME sector in order to encourage the growth and development of a vibrant second economy.  It is JTC’s mission to attract visitors to our city, encourage them to stay longer, spend more, improve seasonality patterns and the spread of visitors across the City. 

As the City’s destination marketing organisation, JTC therefore remains focused on positioning Johannesburg not only as the continent’s leading business hub, but also as an exciting, vibrant year-round destination for signature events, lifestyle, the arts, culture, fashion, sports – and of course, mega-events.


(Miss World contestants in a penalty shootout at World Football House in Joburg during the World Cup)

BTN: Which new markets are you looking to target this year and beyond?

LK: As our traditional source markets are currently under pressure due to global economic conditions, the BRICS countries certainly present very attractive market segment for us, which is borne out by increasing arrivals.  Along with China, Brazil and Russia, the African continental market is also a priority for us, accounting for some 70% of our arrivals to date.

BTN: What are the main challenges ahead?

LK: In global cost critical times, the most significant challenge is to remain relevant in terms of pricing – and then of course always finding creative ways of adding value to tourism products to entice increasing visitor numbers.

BTN: In what ways does Joburg compete with other destinations as a value for money destination?

LK: Although we might be a longhaul destination, we are a very accessible destination and the diversity we boast across cultures, tourism products, experiences and budget options means we can compete with any destination on a multitude of levels.


(Lindiwe Kwele, CEO, JTC)

BTN: Is e-marketing a priority for Joburg? Do you have any initiatives planned? How important do you consider the internet and social media to be as distribution channels?

LK: Absolutely - e-marketing (including the internet and social media) play an important role in our positioning and promotional strategies and form part of our daily activities.  All our event-based seasonal campaigns are supported by both traditional and social media initiatives. Over and above this - this month, Joburg Tourism Company is launching a booking portal on our website www.joburgtourism.com.

We’re very excited about the launch of this additional marketing channel, as it provides a powerful touch-point to connect consumers globally with the variety of products, leisure options and activities available in Joburg.  While we’ll always be a longhaul destination, this portal brings the city closer to people through very personal mediums like mobile phones and pc’s. We’re truly just a click away now – anywhere in the world – in your office, home, or in your pocket!


(Lindiwe Kwele is confident the city can maintain its current run of success)