Meetings Africa 2013, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, 18 to 20 February, 2013

Meetings Africa, an annual event for the meetings and events industry currently focusing on suppliers from South Africa, is to broaden its appeal by expanding the exhibitor base to include representatives from the wider African continent.

Taking place in Johannesburg, next years event will see a number of new exhibitors including Zimbabwe and Kenya. For the SANCB, (South Africa National Convention Bureau) the strategic objectives are to broaden the opportunity to make Meetings Africa a truly African showcase, to grow the capacity of the collective African business events industry and to transform regional Africa into one of the worlds business event powerhouses.

South Africa is now one of the worlds emerging giants in business event hosting. Meetings Africa 2013 will take the first in a series of steps next year to include other destinations on the continent to eventually make Meetings Africa the single most influential and biggest pan-African business event trade exhibition on the continent. Says Chief Executive Officer of South African Tourism, Mr. Thulani Nzima.

As a two-day event that includes a quality driven Hosted Buyer Programme, networking functions and a number of co-located events, Meetings Africa 2013 will also see a number of new initiatives including ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association) who will hold its Africa Chapter meeting at Meetings Africa 2013. This is very significant and excellently serves growth ambitions says Nzima. It will facilitate continental collaboration to secure more regional meetings in South Africa that, in turn, will raise South Africas ICCA ranking (presently at position number 37, putting South Africa among the top 15 long haul destinations for business events).

As the ICCA Africa Chapter we are in full support of the strategic direction that Meetings Africa is taking. Africa is the second largest of the earth’s seven continents and it is only fitting that the continent starts to claim a bigger stake in the business events industry. As the largest business events trade show in Africa, Meetings Africa is the perfect platform to showcase what the continent has to offer, says ICCA African Chapter Chairperson, Rashid Toefy.

Other new developments designed to deliver maximum value to all delegates will include:
The SAACI Special General Meeting that will give the association a platform to engage with their members. This will include the ICCA Africa Chapter meeting and Event Greening Forum meetings;
An Association Day designed to build capacity in national pan-African associations; to promote engagement and to work on lead development to boost competitiveness;
IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum Africa that gives young industry professionals an opportunity to benefit and learn from experienced people in the business events industry;
A Corporate Hosted Buyers event at which buyers will be briefed on how to extract maximum benefit from the trade show; and
A Decision Makers Forum where public sector leaders will come together to discuss the socio-economic impact of business events on cities, provinces, municipalities and countries.

Whilst South Africa believes its major events credentials are firmly established, they also know that there is much potential to win a bigger share of the global and regional business event market. The formation of the South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB) in February this year has helped to consolidate and enhance South Africas business events industry to the rest of the world.

South Africa has still only scratched the surface when it comes to growing its share of the global meetings and business events market. Of the nearly 10,000 international standard meetings rotated worldwide in 2010, of which 3000 meetings are pure international and the other 6000 regional meetings, South Africa secured 86 and the African continent 304. The potential for growth is enormous. Says Nzima.

Although Meetings Africa is officially hosted by the SANCB, its really a show presented by a collective of Africas most passionate business event professionals who want to see their businesses succeed and thrive. They are passionate about delivering the best service and about delivering memorable experiences. Meetings Africa belongs to the whole industry. We invite the global buyers and key decision makers within the business events industry to come to South Africa and meet these people who are service-driven, friendly, deeply accommodating and ready to do business.

To unlock Africas potential in business events demands partnership and collaboration, Nzima says. Its our medium- to-long-term ambition to build a pan-African Meetings Africa. This will foster an environment in which more regional and global conventions are held in South Africa to deliver a lasting and beneficial impact on the continent, the country and the people who work and who have ambition to work in tourism.

Our theme at Meetings Africa 2013 is Advancing Africa Together. Meetings Africa 2013 will give best and seamless access to the African service offering in business events and to a regional and continental industry thats capable and thats ready to do business. Nzima added

Meetings Africa 2012 attracted 20 percent more delegates than it did in 2011. Registered international visitors almost doubled to 205 delegates.