South Africa’s credentials have been given a major boost and have cemented the country’s position as Africa’s top business events destination. The International Congress and Convention Associations (ICCA) 2013 ICCA rankings show that South Africa has gained three places on the global rankings placing it at number 34 from 37. In 2013, South Africa hosted 118 meetings officially making it the number one convention destination in Africa and the Middle East.
Furthermore, two of the country’s cities – Durban and Cape Town – are placed in the Top 100 cities in the world for business events.
“We are exceptionally happy with this announcement. Our hard work and the execution of the ‘Rise with Us’ strategy launched last year is clearly bearing fruits. We launched it to address and change the misconceptions the global industry has about South Africa and it seems the message is being well received,” says Thulani Nzima, Chief Executive Officer of South African Tourism.
“But we cannot take all the credit: This feat would not have been possible had it not been for the truly remarkable contributions of all the members of the South African tourism industry and association bodies. It is their seamless execution of conferences and meetings as well as their dedication to our vision and mandate that has clearly cemented South Africa’s growing reputation in this industry,” Nzima adds.
The SANCB was launched in 2012 to help grow and position the country as a favourable destination. At the time of its launch, South Africa had already hosted numerous mega events and meetings and conferences of global significance which had catapulted the nation’s skills and capabilities into the international spotlight.
“Before 1994, the first year of our democracy, South Africa hosted 12 international association conferences. Fast forward to 2013 and we have grown this number to 118 ICCA recognised meetings. We have also hosted 1 038 international association conferences that met ICCA’s criteria since 1994 and remain ranked under the top 11 long haul destinations globally,” says Nzima.
Some of the events successfully hosted by South Africa include the International Aids Conference that took place in 2000, which the country has won the right to host for a second time in 2016 and will be taking place in Durban. An estimated 20 000 delegates will be in attendance. The 123rd Session of the International Olympic Organising Committee which took place in Durban in 2011 and the World Congress on Intensive and Critical Care Medicine (WFSICMM) which had a total of 10 000 delegates (2013) and the One Young World Conference in 2013 which took place for the first time in Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Many of the meetings and conferences hosted have not only demonstrated the country’s world class infrastructure and capabilities, but have also showcased a united industry and a committed government, working hard, passionately and together to taking this industry forward and in so doing, growing our global reputation for the benefit of all businesses in the sector. They have also done a sterling job of showing why South Africa and indeed, South Africans are highly regarded as experts and industry experts in various industries.
Shows such as IMEX Frankfurt help to deliver this message in a direct way.
“We participate in trade shows like IMEX not only because it is part of our mandate to market our country and create international marketing platforms for the local business events industry but also, and most importantly, because these shows give us direct access to the buyers and key decision makers we are targeting.”
But, as he is quick to point out, this achievement is not a win for South Africa only but for the continent as a whole. It encourages African Associations to work together and collaborate in a bid to win more events for the continent.
“Our success as a destination is made sweeter when our counterparts from the continent win as well. We need to collaborate and unite with our counterparts on the continent if we want to be a destination to be reckoned with on the business events front. The business events markets is vast and varied. There is enough for everyone – but it will take collaboration, partnership and understanding that we are working to unleash the potential of business events for the benefit of the continent, not just our country,” concludes Nzima.
It is for this reason that the SANCB manages and hosts the continent’s pan-African business event tradeshow, Meetings Africa. The show delivers a quality business platform for growing the continent’s business events industry. Next year, Meetings Africa will celebrate its tenth year and is now firmly established as the biggest, best represented and most valuable business events tradeshow in Africa.
“We’re excited about the growth of Meetings Africa and how it brings the best of Africa under one roof. It is an excellent business platform, an opportunity to discuss, network and work on ways in which we, as players in the business events sector, can and should pool together for the betterment of the industry, and of Africa,” says Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, Chief Convention Bureau Officer at South African Tourism.
Meetings Africa 2015 takes place from 23 – 25 February at the Sandton Convention Centre. The SANCB is currently participating at the IMEX Frankfurt exhibition.