A delegation of the world’s leading conference, meetings and event’s organisers spent the past week in Cape Town , to discuss ways of unlocking Africa’s growth potential in terms of advancing the meetings and events sector on the continent.
MCI the world’s largest conference and events management company, and Wesgro, the Western Cape’s Destination Marketing, Investment and Trade Promotion Agency hosted the members of INCON to a dinner with key role-players in the public and private sector.
According to MCI South Africa, Managing Director, Rashid Toefy, Africa is the next frontier for international conferences. “The conference, meetings and events sector plays a pivotal role in spurring economic growth and job creation in the country and hosting INCON provided an ideal platform to showcase Cape Town’s desirability in terms of its world class conference capabilities and investment potential”, he added.
The challenge for Cape Town, according to Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris, is for the city to leverage its leisure destination reputation and to position itself as a conference destination of choice.“The meetings, conferencing and events sector is the ‘thin edge of the wedge’ to achieve this goal of presenting Cape Town as a city for business. People come here for a conference and realise there is more to the city than just a holiday destination. We can pitch on investing here and get them to set up their business in Cape Town”, said Harris.
Economic Opportunities MEC, Alan Winde said that government decided to invest in the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) more than a decade ago. Since opening its doors the centre has contributed in excess of R 22 billion to the national economy.
“We’re also seeing the private sector investing in conferencing facilities such as a new centre close to Century City recently. A key benefit is also the transfer of knowledge – in recent times, we have seen a number of medical conferences being held in Cape Town. This has influenced the way in which investment is happening with talk of a local ‘medical technology’ park. Universities and hospitals are also looking at ways in how they can link closer with medical tourism and conferencing and developing specialist skills in the economy”, said the MEC.
“Conferences involving other sectors of the economy do well here too, even if those sectors are not mainstream or present in our city. Take for example the very successful annual Mining Indaba. I would like an “Agri-Indaba for Africa” to take shape in Cape Town and discussions have already started. This would be an indaba that looks at food security, and the role that Africa has to play for the next 50 years on the planet.”
Since taking over the reins at MCI South Africa in 2014, Toefy has played a pivotal role in driving association business in South Africa. Part of MCI South Africa’s success in securing new business can be attributed to its mandate of utilising technology to shape strategic engagements and change the way people meet. “The architecture of conferences, meetings and events is evolving and we are committed to taking meetings to the next level” said Toefy.
Under his leadership MCI South Africa has been instrumental in attracting association conferences to South Africa and Cape Town such as the African Securities Exchange Association Conference, which was hosted last year and saw the CEO’s of all African Stock Exchanges converge in Johannesburg to discuss ways of raising the global competitiveness of African stock exchanges.
Other international association conferences and events on the cards include the International Law Association Conference taking place in August this year, the International Sustainable Brands Cape Town Conference which will be held in May 2016 and the South African Heart Association Conferences which will be held in 2017 & 2018.