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Indaba 2011: Lindiwe Kwele, Chief Executive, Joburg Tourism Company

Indaba 2011: Lindiwe Kwele, Chief Executive, Joburg Tourism Company

With Indaba 2011 just around the corner, BTN catches up with Lindiwe Kwele, Chief Executive, Johannesburg Tourism Company Johannesburg, to find out what the City of Gold has planned to build its reputation as Africa’s leading, global, year-round destination for business, lifestyle and mega-events.

BTN: What are your expectations and participation at this year’s Indaba?
LK: As with our presence at all leisure expo’s in the travel and tourism industry, we look forward to continuing with our efforts to entrench Joburg as Africa’s leading, global, year-round destination for business, lifestyle and mega-events. The JTC team will be promoting a comprehensive view of greater Joburg as a tourist destination – experiences in every corner of the city - while highlighting the SOJO Route. Short for South of Joburg, SOJO focuses on the eco-tourism offerings available in this part of the city, which are unique and relatively unknown. JTC will also be honouring pioneering SMME’s in tourism, by announcing the winner of the first JTC Entrepreneur Award at a breakfast at The Hilton Hotel (Durban) on 9 May.

Very importantly, we’re also celebrating the honour of hosting the SA Music Awards (SAMA) in Joburg this year, on 20/21 May at Montecasino. Now in its 17th year, the annual SAMA’s are dubbed “the biggest night in SA music, a celebration and a coming together of celebrity, industry, media and fans ”. The level of access and engagement opportunities for the public with the stars will be unprecedented in SAMA history. A host of exciting after parties and events promises to bring the SAMA’s to life on a whole new level this year.  (

(Lindiwe Kwele with Miss South Africa at Soccer City)

BTN: 2010 was a ground-breaking year for you – what have you lined up in 2011 and beyond to keep the momentum going?
LK: Thanks to our role as the pre-eminent host of the 2010 World Cup, Joburg enjoyed unprecedented levels of international exposure and interest. It was a defining moment for us; as a city we certainly stepped up to the plate and took centre stage with great acclaim. Although the World Cup has come and gone, the show goes on and it is our task to demonstrate our capabilities to our international target markets in a way which is appealing – enticing them to visit, stay longer, spend more and enjoy discovering this exciting city which just keeps getting bigger and better. The action never stops in Joburg – and the Johannesburg Tourism Company’s (JTC’s) colourful seasonal campaigns are designed to package the plethora of events taking place across the spectrum of music, arts, culture, food, fashion, entertainment, sport, and business throughout the year.

(Lindiwe was a keynote speaker at the inaugural WSDE Sport Tourism Expo in Joburg)

BTN: What do you see as the key growth areas in Joburg? What opportunities will these create for potential investors?
LK: All the positive global media coverage and the tourist experiences in our city during the World Cup, have resulted in a global paradigm shift about Joburg and issues concerning safety and security, transport, infrastructure, as well as its appeal generally as a destination for both business and leisure. Now we need to maintain this interest and momentum, encouraging not only increased business and leisure tourism, but also investment and other business opportunities in the City. While we encourage business visitors to “stay another day’, our messaging to potential investors is “Visit, Buy, Invest in Joburg,” as the opportunities are there for the taking.

World Cup preparation and legacy projects have served to change the geopolitical face of Johannesburg. On a broader macroeconomic scale the city now boasts increased hospitality and tourism products, an integrated public transport network, world class transport infrastructure upgrades and better connectivity.

(Lindiwe Kwele with Lumka Dlomo of Johannesburg Tourism Company)

Aside from our city’s accessibility as the continent’s leading transport hub, the location of two major stadia in the City positions Joburg favourably as a pre-eminent destination for sports tourism and mega-events. As the successful launch of the Gautrain has exceeded expectations, we also need to leverage this fact as part of Joburg’s positioning as a global destination of choice for business, leisure, cultural, sports and lifestyle events tourism.

BTN: What plans do you have to ensure Joburg builds its reputation as the business hub of Africa?
LK: Our messaging and presence as a player in the international tourism industry needs to remain focused on reminding our target audiences about Joburg’s credentials as the African continent’s “winning horse”. A fabulously successful World Cup ensured that the world experienced our capabilities and hospitality firsthand. Now we have to leverage these at every opportunity.

One of Johannesburg’s major competitive advantages is its international recognition as the business and commercial capital of the African continent. Given its accessibility by air (55 international airlines fly in to Joburg) that 75 percent of corporate headquarters are based in the city, and being the only city in South Africa that boasts four of the venues capable of hosting more than 5,000 delegates – Johannesburg’s success as a tourism destination pivots on business.

(Lindiwe Kwele, pictured here with Miss World contestants at the SABC launch, played an intergral role in Joburg’s World Cup success)

However, the business tourism market presents a fabulous leveraging opportunity to grow the city’s leisure tourism market. The positive coverage Joburg enjoyed globally during the World Cup has gone a long way to positioning the city as a vibrant, exciting destination with myriads on offer across the spectrum of sporting, cultural, music, retail and lifestyle experiences.

BTN: What will be the main challenges for your nation over the next 12 months and in what ways are you addressing these?
LK: We are all living with the long-term effects of the global economic shift which occurred in 2008. We operate in cost critical times in a highly competitive global marketplace. We need to be cognisant of this at all times, looking at ways of adding value to our unique offerings and playing to our strengths, without increasing costs. 

(Joburg - the city that never sleeps)

BTN: What are your predictions for travel and tourism trends in the Joburg over the next five years?
LK: We are so looking forward to the way the fully-fledged Gautrain (Africa’s first high-speed railway, complemented by the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit system ) is going to change the way people experience the city, for both residents and visitors.  predict that this impact is going to be profound, adding a whole new dimension to life in Jozi. Locals are going to enjoy exploring and being tourists in their own backyard as never before, while it is also going to enhance the Joburg experience for visitors, and set us apart as Africa’s most fabulous destination.

(Joburg Fashion Week - an integral part of the city’s events calendar)

BTN: What is your strategy to ensure the goodwill and publicity generated by the FIFA World Cup has a lasting impact?
LK: To remind and motivate our peers and stakeholders in the industry to keep our country’s flag flying high at all times.  The World Cup was such a wonderful boost and demonstrated to ourselves and the world what we as South Africans are capable of.

BTN: Which territories/countries present the brightest future opportunities for inbound tourism?
LK: While we will always look to retaining our interests in our traditional source markets, it is without a doubt the BRIC countries that present the brightest future opportunities, as this is constantly borne out by arrival figures.