Business tourism: R90m allocated to attract more business events in SA

2017-12-01 11:17 - Kavitha Pillay
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Cape Town - With Cape Town ranking as the number one city in Africa for business tourism events for 2017, and the opening of the expanded Cape Town International Convention Centre, CTICC 2, which is set to add a considerable competitive advantage to its offering, it's no surprise that South African Tourism (SAT) is on a mission to attract even more business events to SA.

At IBTM World on Tuesday, 28 November, South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Tourism, Elizabeth Thabethe, announced a “bold and ambitious” delegate-boosting plan as part of a Bidding Support Programme to move the country’s business events industry forward.

According to Thabethe, SAT's business unit - the South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB) - emphasises that SA and Africa is "open for business and on an accelerated drive to increase our share of the global business events pie".

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This drive aims to bring more high-value business events delegates to SA, aid economic growth and sustain much-needed jobs in the tourism industry. It will also contribute to the "local knowledge economy" says Thabethe.

Based on a three-year study on SA’s business events industry, the country hosts about a million business delegates annually and local events "sustains more than 250 000 jobs, directly and indirectly".

Thabethe says that the business events industry contributes about R115 billion to South Africa’s gross domestic product every year.

“This research proves what our industry has always suspected – that South Africa’s business events industry contributes significantly to our broader tourism economy,” she says.

SEE: CTICC 2 opening to further boost Africa's business events leader Cape Town

In addition, she says that "delegates have an appetite to experience South Africa’s leisure attractions and that most have the disposable income to enjoy an extended holiday add-on to their business trip".

“Armed with this research, we want to entice business events delegates to come to South Africa, stay for longer and bring people with them,” she says.

Attracting more business events

SAT says that to achieve this tourism growth, SA government has "allocated R90 million for a Bidding Support Programme to enable South Africa to bid more aggressively for international association conferences, meetings, incentives and exhibitions over the next three years".

Thabethe says that this will give South Africa “extra muscle” to lobby for and attract big-ticket events.

“We have all the infrastructure, technical capacity, expertise and experience that’s needed, not to mention extremely welcome, service-oriented and capable people,” says Thabethe, adding that more needs to be done for the country’s business events sector to reach its full potential.

"Hence the need for the Bidding Support Programme. As part of this, the SANCB is spearheading a global delegate-boosting campaign, targeting members of the association conferences that are already confirmed to take place in South Africa over the next five years."

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Since April the SANCB submitted 54 bids that could potentially contribute R1.6 billion to the economy, attract 57 660 delegates and generate more than 214 combined conference days.

The next business event to be held in SA is Meetings Africa - the premier business events travel trade show on the continent - which will take place at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, from 26-28 February 2018.

Thabethe says that each time a blue-chip international event is hosted in South Africa, it not only adds to the country’s prestige, "it also delivers important socio-economic benefits to our people."

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