Johannesburg rises on global convention ranking

Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city and economic hub, is an increasingly attractive destination for major global conferences, having risen a remarkable 133 places in the International Congress and Convention Association rankings over the past three years.

Johannesburg 1 The Johannesburg city centre at night, with the Nelson Mandela Bridge in the foreground, spanning the Park Station train shunting yards. (Image: Brand South Africa)


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Staff writer

Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city and economic hub, is an increasingly attractive destination for major global conferences, having risen a remarkable 133 places in the International Congress and Convention Association rankings over the past three years.

According to the ICCA’s 2014 report, released on 11 May 2105, Johannesburg is ranked at 101st place among the world’s top conference destinations, up from 136 in 2013 and 234 in 2012.

The ICCA is one of the most important organisations in the business of international meetings, with a network of 1 000 members from more than 90 countries. It is the only association whose membership represents the main specialists in handling, transporting and accommodating international events. The association’s annual rankings are based on the number of rotating global association meetings hosted in a particular destination.

“Joburg’s continued improvement in its ICCA rankings is thanks to a collaborative effort with our industry partners, peers and stakeholders and confirms the city’s status as a world-class business events destination,” Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau said in a statement.

 Sandton CBDThe economy of Johannesburg benefits from not just one central business district, but two: The Sandton CBD in the north of the city is growing rapidly. (Image: Brand South Africa)

Big events mean big bucks

Hosting events has a direct and positive economic impact on the city and all who work and play in it. Benefits include money spent, jobs created and changing travellers’ perceptions of the city.

Large business events often attract between 500 and 1 000 international visitors, who tend to stay for three to six days, with a direct or indirect contribution to the tourism value chain, including accommodation, restaurants, tourist attractions and transport services.

Business tourism helps promote Johannesburg, not only as a premier destination for business, as the financial and commercial hub of Africa, but also as an all-year-round destination for leisure, sport and mega-events such as the 2010 Fifa World Cup. More importantly, it helps sell the city as a profitable centre of trade development and investment.

Large international gatherings also create immediate trade relations between Johannesburg and other cities and countries. Hosting events also helps with the exchange of professional and intellectual capital and expertise.

Guided by its Growth and Development Strategy 2040, city government aims to position Johannesburg a leading global city, a year-round business and events destination, and a cosmopolitan centre for lifestyle, leisure, heritage, the arts, culture and entertainment. The goal is to achieve shared and sustainable economic growth in the city, stimulating both the tourism sector and the second economy.

Visitors to big-ticket events also benefit from the local tourism scene, which has boomed over the past 20 years and seen an impressive development of visitor attractions, precincts, museums and sites highlighting Johannesburg’s complex and fascinating story. These include the Origins Centre, Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, Museum Africa, Montecasino and the SAB World of Beer.

 Johannesburg 2Dawn breaks over the skyline of the established Johannesburg central business district. (Image: Brand South Africa)

Sophisticated infrastructure

Johannesburg has strong business events credentials. Aside from the major international business and sporting events hosted in the city since the mid-1990s, Johannesburg is home to increasing hotel inventory and world-class convention facilities, all supported by a well-established and growing service sector and solid infrastructure.

Transport infrastructure includes the Gautrain rapid rail system, Rea Vaya bus rapid transit network and OR Tambo International Airport, South Africa’s most important travel hub. Over 55 airlines link Johannesburg to major centres worldwide, making it one of the easiest cities to access in Africa.

The city can comfortably host any event, from small professional meetings to mega global conferences and sporting events. There are some 130 venues in Johannesburg, varying in capacity, including the four biggest which are capable of accommodating over 5 000 delegates.