You can discover the best that southern Africa can offer the world at Retail & Hospitality Week 2017 in Johannesburg, which began today (Sunday June 25).

All the best that Southern Africa has to offer the rest of the world in the fields of retail and hospitality are currently on display in one place, according to South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Tourism, Elizabeth Thabthe.

She was speaking during a visit to Johannesburg’s Gallagher Convention Centre, where she took a look around SAITEX 2017, Africa’s Big 7, and The Hotel Show 2017.

After cutting a ribbon to mark the opening of the event (see picture above_, The Honourable Elizabeth Thabthe spoke about what the region can offer the rest of the world, in the fields of business opportunities, investment and tourism.

“I am very excited that we have the opportunity to host this sort of show, particularly the Hotel Show for the first time,” she said.

“Here we can see the very best that we have to offer and we can move the country up. Many countries doubted that a nation such as South Africa could successfully host the (football) World Cup as we did in 2010.

“But following that event they now come back as tourists as they also saw we are one of the most beautiful countries in the world.”

The Honourable Elizabeth Thabthe then explained how the current shows will help to boost awareness of the potential of the region across the world.

She said: “This event enables people to see why we are the destination of choice for business, commerce and leisure activities. The shows are a boost for Africa as a whole and its one billion population.

“Here we are in the economic heart of the country, but you can explore eight more provinces very easily because of the infrastructure South Africa has developed.

“Events such as the Hotel Show can make people aware of the hidden gems which are in the rural areas and which they can explore in order to fully realise South Africa’s beauty. This will also spread the benefits of tourism across the country.

“Visitors want to find out how people live their everyday lives, what they eat, what they do in their leisure time. Visiting our rural areas is the way they can experience this.

“They can experience our history, our heritage, the natural environment and the wildlife.

“The current growth in overseas arrivals shows that we are a destination perfectly suited to the needs of our visitors.”

The minister said the expanding popularity of South Africa will require a huge expansion in the number of rooms available in hotels, game lodges and bed and breakfast accommodation – meaning a great level of potential for investors.

She said: “The current growth in overseas arrivals shows that we are a destination perfectly suited to the needs of our visitors. We are confident that this increase will keep us abreast of the needs of tourists.”

And a partnership between the public and private sector is necessary to ensure the potential of the country is realised, said the Honourable Elizabeth Thabthe.

“The Government alone cannot solve every problem,” she said. “What we can do is create provision for the public sector. But we need to work together. The Government is there to create the right conditions to enable the public sector to work.”

During her visit she also toured visitor stands and looked at the latest smart technology for hotels on show by Hoteltronix.

The company’s Pieter Naude said: “The hospitality industry is an expanding market so everyone involved wants to get the latest technology in order to provide the best guest experience.

“It was fantastic that the minister stopped to take a look at what we are doing. It is something we certainly did not expect. To get this level of exposure fully justifies our investment in the event. It is something we have not had at other shows.”

The Honourable Elizabeth Thabthe also looked at the work of Sitwell Consulting which provides mobility for people with disabilities in line with a South African National Development Plan which is set to run for the next decade under the slogan: “Persons with disabilities are equal citizens.”

The firm’s Tina Watt said: “There is a certain lack of knowledge and awareness on this issue so the minister’s interest and our participation in the show can go some way towards addressing this, as well as helping us to obtain more clients of course.”

The minister praised the forward thinking of the exhibitors and the solutions they were offering to developers and investors.

“There is real talent an innovation on show here,” she said.