29 February 2012
South Africa is fast becoming one of the world’s favourite destinations for big events, meetings, conferences and exhibitions, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk told delegates at the Meetings Africa expo in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
According to Van Schalkwyk, the country has already secured over 200 international conferences over the next five years, which are expected to attract around 300 000 delegates and provide an economic boost of more than R1.6-billion.
“We will encourage business travellers to stay longer to explore our country’s tourist offerings and, of course, to return with their families,” Van Schalkwyk said.
Van Schalkwyk said South Africa’s capability and infrastructure for business tourism was superb.
“Besides the three big national convention centres in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, our destination is home to numerous other facilities that give the world’s meetings and conference organisers the same quality, variety and choice that South Africa offers across the larger tourism sector.”
National Convention Bureau of South Africa
Meetings Africa is the biggest business-to-business tourism exhibition on the continent.
This year’s event introduces the industry to the National Convention Bureau of South Africa, an entity that will give the larger industry a strategic and operational platform from which to boost the country’s business tourism global competitiveness.
The National Convention Bureau, which starts operating in April, will be central to South Africa’s ambition to leverage the global opportunities to remain Africa’s number one host of meetings and conferences.
Established in November and headed up by executive manager Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, the Bureau will act as a “one-stop shop” for independent information and assistance, giving neutral advice on all aspects of hosting and organising any business tourism-related event in South Africa.
The Bureau has set a target for 2012/13 of supporting at least 30 bids for new international meetings, with a potential of 18 000 delegates and R162-million in direct economic spend.
More than 200 international hosted buyers are attending Meetings Africa this year, engaging with the South African and regional industry to conclude deals which seek to grow business tourism arrivals.
The buyers, hosted by South African Tourism, come from 18 markets which include the United Kingdom, USA, Australia, Kenya, Germany, Netherlands, China, Brazil and Nigeria.