In the month of October 2021, our team has been knocking off after midnight at South Africa’s pavilion at the Dubai EXPO2020.
One night in particular on 15 October 2021, we hit our highest ever tourist visits to the pavilion since our arrival. Yes, indeed South Africa has a good story to tell and on that day, we had 3150 visitors set foot inside the pavilion at the Expo.
The timing of this achievement is momentous with exactly three weeks since we first opened our doors as South Africa to the world. This is a true example that the world has opened its doors for us to meet again.
A massive queue of people stood in line daily to come and learn more about what South Africa has to offer. Moreover, they come to the South Africa pavilion to get their expo passport stamped that indeed they too have travelled to our beautiful pavilion. This was the closest thing to being in our country and the feedback received is that indeed they wish to travel to South Africa.
With our country’s borders fully open and the vaccination programme underway, South Africa is one of the countries that has eased travel restrictions. The Expo has demonstrated that the world is back to business and both locals and tourists have taken advantage of the 193 countries present at the World Expo 2020 to restart tourism, business, cultural and social interaction.
It is still unimaginable that just a year ago, millions of people were confined to their homes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, precautions were still being taken with officials ensuring that those visiting the Expo wear their masks while surfaces were also constantly sanitized.
The world has received South Africa well as we started October with our arts, music, and cultural showcase that started conversations with new friends, potential business and tourists who visited the pavilion to be inspired by our story of excellence.
What has been amazing to see is how we as Team South Africa have presented ourselves to the world as one. We also thank all private and non-state sectors that contributed to amplifying South Africa’s presence at the expo.
We truly have reasons to believe that through the Team South Africa approach, we are ‘Inspiring New Ways’ to ensure that we attract trade, investment, tourists, arts and culture enthusiasts to look to South Africa.
It truly has been 21 days of greatness with emerging artists collaborating with world-renowned artists including the likes of Volley Nchabeleng and Master KG. Equally so, we have seen one of a kind artistic talents such as Percy Miamela who is the only artist able to use salt and sand to create artistic images. South African Grammy Award winner Wouter Kellerman also rendered an item with Mafikeng guitarist Lesego Nkoyane.
A showstopper was the “One Night with Mzansi” event on Sunday, 17 October 2021 where South Africa shared the stage with 200 dignitaries from across the world at the Dubai Opera House. Hosted by our very own Nomzamo Mbatha, the event included performances by Mi Casa, Blaq Diamond, DJ Maphorisa, Ami Faku and Daliwonga. The Mzansi Youth Choir, Drakensberg Boys Choir, along with Sho Madjozi and Khuzai Mpungose also graced the stage.
Most South Africans may wonder why our approach to the Expo started with a cultural and artistic showcase. The answer is simple, in meeting the world we must be able to introduce ourselves and build relationships. The best way to do this is through music, arts and culture as this stimulates conversations on what we have to offer from a trade and investment position.
As Team South Africa our mandate is clear, we need to open doors for Small, Medium, and Micro Enterprises ( SMMEs) looking to access new markets and to facilitate investment into South Africa. In November, we will deploy an aggressive approach to achieve this.
We also encourage the South African private and non-state sector to play their part and join Team South Africa as we reintroduce ourselves to the world. We know that the journey ahead of us will be demanding, but we remain resilient.
We have done it before, and we can do it again. We have so much potential with a team of young men and women from the public and private sector working together as part of Team South Africa. We ask that you walk this road with us South Africa.
*Fuziwe Kubheka is Team South Africa’s Expo 2020 Pavilion Director