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Africa Travel Week to drive Diversity and Inclusion initiatives in the buildup to WTM Africa 2021

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4 min read

With WTM Africa set to run as a live/hybrid event at the CTICC in Cape Town from 07-09 April 2021, the team at Africa Travel Week (ATW) has pledged to continue driving Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) efforts in the build up to the show.

The tourism landscape is going to look very different next year and we want to do what we can to make it better, and to be better as a company,” says Megan Oberholzer, Portfolio Director – Travel Tourism & Sports for Reed Exhibitions South Africa.

Since the launch of WTM Africa, ATW’s flagship travel trade show, the organisation has laid out specific goals in creating a foundation for their D&I work throughout their suite of live shows. But with the postponement of the 2020, they saw an opportunity to apply the resources available to the ATW team through Reed Exhibitions to advance diversity within the various segments of the organisation.

“This included a consultation with Ron Walden, Reed’s first global Executive Sponsor for Race, who, in his current role, provides additional leadership on race and ethnicity and setting targets for ethnic minority representation,” Oberholzer explains.

“Using all of his experience and advocacy, Ron has provided additional leadership on race and ethnicity when it comes to decisions regarding recruitment, content, confirming speakers for webinars and other initiatives we embark on.”

She further explains that ATW has also built a strong relationship with their partner associations that have been integral to their efforts, such as the SEEZA SMME Tourism Network and the Africa Tourism Association (ATA) headed by CEO, Naledi Khabo, a corporate strategy leader with over 20 years of experience.

“Naledi has been a key player in helping to sourcing diverse thought leaders to participate in our digital events this year. We are so grateful for her guidance and support, especially with the launch of our first series of webinars this year that touched on the international diaspora and Pan-African traveller.”

Speaking on behalf of ATA, Khabo confirms that they have enjoyed a collaborative partnership with Reed Exhibitions and Africa Travel Week for some time.

“We look forward to continuing and extending our partnership to ensure these are not short-term, reactive measures, but rather we are laying the foundation to drive long-term systematic change. The real goal is not the continuation of diversity and inclusive conversations, but that all conversations are naturally diverse and inclusive,” she says.

Another well-established and collaborative relationship ATW with nurture going into 2021 is that with SEEZA Tourism Network and the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA).

“IGLTA and the IGLTA Foundation are proud of our expanded collaboration with ATW/EQUAL Africa to increase understanding and support for safe and welcoming LGBTQ+ tourism in Africa and around the world,” says IGLTA President/CEO John Tanzella.

“Partnering on their LGBTQ+ webinars this year gave us the opportunity to build upon the outreach of IGLTA’s 2016 Cape Town convention and deepen ties across the continent in the name of equality.”

In having to dive deeper into the digital space this year, Oberholzer explains that she and her team have continued to proactively educate themselves and their spheres of influence. She also highlights some of the immediate actions undertaken by and in the pipeline for ATW:

  • ATW Connect, our digital arm, serves as an accessible platform featuring various articles and information sources on diversity and inclusion.
  • The SME Pavilion stand will return to WTM Africa in 2021. It creates exclusive opportunities for SME travel and tourism companies to showcase their products to top international buyers.
  • The Crafters Pop Up Market at WTM Africa and ILTM Africa in partnership with the Cape Design Institute offers black-owned small businesses the opportunity to sell their proudly African products to the travel community and international buyers at our live shows.
  • Our #UnlockAfrica social media campaign appeals to all local and black-owned businesses who have had joy, success, triumph and fulfilment during these times to share their stories with our wider travel and tourism community.
  • Governed by and compliant with Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) policy, Reed Exhibitions hiring choices align with the larger aim of transformation.
  • EQUAL Africa will return in 2021 a co-located bolt-on event and conference programme to promote and better understand the LGBTQ+ travel community.

“Every organisation is in a different part of the D&I journey — and it is a journey, which means it’s an ongoing process,” explains Oberholzer.

“We’re incredibly proud of the foundation we’re building, and we will continue to highlight the importance of diversity and inclusion as we focus on #MakingTravelHappen again in the run-up to the show next year,” she concludes.

Jeanette Briedenhann
Jeanette Phillips joined the team in 2016. She developed a passion and love for all things-travel related in her role as travel journalist, a position she held for over seven years. A brief exodus into the corporate marketing sphere proved that there is no better industry than the travel industry. Research and writing are two of Jeanette’s greatest passions, but she is always open to new challenges and different ways of doing things.

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