Thursday, 21 September 2017

Youth Tourism Conference 2017 - Port Elizabeth


Once a year, members of SAYTC (South African Youth Travel Confederation), get together for an Annual General Meeting (AGM). A conference is normally combined with this event, to give members time to explore the destination where the meeting is hosted, and to do networking with other members. The destination changes every year, often giving members an opportunity to explore a new region and giving members that are based in that region some exposure.

Activities, trips, tours, culinary experiences, culture, interesting talks and great entertainment goes hand in hand with these conferences. Hosting South Africa's youth tourism leaders is a great opportunity for the host city to pull out all the stops, to showcase why they are a great travel destination. 



As you can imagine, a multi-day event like this is a lot of fun!

Many members in the industry started out over a decade ago, while others have just opened up. Long-lasting friendships and business relationships have been made, and new ones are being made every year. 

This membership-driven organization represents operators and addresses the concerns and interests of all operators throughout South Africa. Members are represented in the following sectors:
  • Backpacking South Africa
  • Education South Africa 
  • Tours & Transport South Africa
  • Volunteering South Africa
  • Tourism services

This year we were hosted by our Eastern Cape members, in the city of Port Elizabeth. The 3 day event started on Tuesday, 12 September (also Chrissy's birthday) and ended on Thursday, 14 September (Hendrik's birthday) 😀 This was also our biggest conference to date, with more than 200 people attending!

Day 1:

William joined us for his first SAYTC conference so we had a busy morning, running up and down ramps at the airport, after our little Stomper. 

Opening day included an "Amazing Race" where teams did various excursions in and around the city, including beer tasting, local food, Addo Elephant National Park, boat cruises and much more. Members arrived throughout the day, from all over South Africa. By the evening we were all together having craft beers, while food trucks made sure we didn't go hungry. 

Day 2:

Time for the official AGM, hosted at the Summerstrand Hotel. We got serious, with a formal setting, a panel of speakers and open discussions about important matters arising in our industry. Just as the day started to feel too long, we had some delightful entertainment by Joshua from Xhosa Talks: https://soundcloud.com/xhosatalk/molo-bhuti-enkosi-bye-bye

When business was done for the day, the guys from Lungile Lodge Backpackers took us to Richmond Hill, an up-and-coming area in Port Elizabeth, to soak up the afternoon sun with a drink and some great laughs and conversation.


The evening was fun-filled as we were celebrating our industry friends, Baz Bus's 21st birthday! We were hosted at The Dockside for this get together. An awesome venue, with lots of space for dancing, great music, free shooters and fantastic selection of food trucks for dinner.

































Day 3: 

After a late night, we were up bright and early for the last day of conferencing. This day was mainly set aside for 'speed dating'. Tables are set up and all members have an opportunity to display their product or to browse around through the room, visiting different stands and learning about the products. Wineflies took this opportunity to put up a stand where people could sample some wine, paired with chocolate. Naturally this became the gathering point and the most visited stall 😁🍷









The grand finalè, was a dress up party: Unique Film Characters. For a bunch of mostly extroverts, this was a great theme. It gave members a chance to express themselves in the most creative ways. We had Elvis, Marylin Munroe, The Joker, Top Gun...and many more! Wineflies hosted the event, and Francois opened it with a bang when he popped the bubbly with a sword!





We experienced Port Elizabeth in all its glory with a windstill, warm evening at the Rooftop Garden Bar. The highlight of the night was when we all competed in a rap-off! We had to choose a name for our team, write a rap song and then perform it as a group, on stage. Even though it's no secret that none of us can quit our day jobs to become a rapper, it was great to see the spirit in the room!


Day 4:

Although the conference ended, the party did not... On the Friday, the celebrations started a little ways down the road in Jeffreys Bay. Island Vibe Backpackers is also celebrating their 21 years, this year, so most of us made the trip to go congratulate them in person. Initially, this was NOT part of the plan, but when Togeda and I woke up on Friday morning, we felt like we will miss out too much!
Again, we were treated to great food, amazing local artists performing in the bar area and catching up with our friends. The energy did not fade, and again there was dancing until the wee hours of the morning. 

Finally, after a huge breakfast, it was time to bid farewell. The time with our partners in the industry, was thoroughly enjoyed and the whole event was very well organized. Thank you to our Eastern Cape chair, Aidan, and his team for organizing this awesome conference and to Loren & Ntsiko for making our last night with the family so special. Thanks also to Hendrik & Chrissy for flying almost our whole office team over, to attend the conference!

We look forward to next year!

Cindy Schalkwyk
#Wedotourism 






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