And this, in its turn, contributes to our overall tourism performance, and allows tourism to continue supporting one in every ten South Africans in employment, and to continue contributing about 9.5 percent of the country’s GDP in total. Your commitment to making our national tourism sector successful, and making our country globally successful, is an inspiration for all of us. This is demonstrated by the pledge you took three years ago, when we adopted South Africa’s Business Events Strategy. You expressed your commitment to work together as an industry, and to include government to ensure that we accomplish big milestones by working as a unit. These milestones are about your personal and business achievements, and about those of the entire country as well. After all, the growth of this industry is also about the growth of our nation. The effect of your work is far-reaching. You have been able to create businesses that touch the lives of people in significant ways . When the strategy was conceptualized four years ago, you had a pretty good idea of the type of skills needed to grow and strengthen our country. Six priority economic sectors were identified in which the business events industry can play a meaningful developmental role. These were : Manufacturing, Mining and Metals, Business Process Outsourcing, Creative Industries, Life Sciences, and Information and Communication Technology.
As an industry, you had the foresight to understand that attracting conventions in these key sectors would assist our country in advancing towards a more knowledge based economy .
You vowed to take the entire industry, and our country, to new heights. For that, I salute you. Your success equates to our country’s success, and that is what we so badly need – growth and success for our country, and for our continent.Meetings Africa, our hugely successful regional business events trade show, has generated quick wins for the business events industry on the entire continent. To strengthen and grow collaboration on the continent, the South African National Conventions Bureau developed a dedicated corporate buyers programme at Meetings Africa, and this created new opportunities for the industry. This was in keeping with the global trend that National and Corporate Meetings events are just as important as international business events in growing the industry. Exhibitors have already secured business deals directly from participating in the programme. All of you here today have affirmed the world’s confidence in South Africa as a capable business events destination. It is because of your professionally managed international convention centres, smaller business event facilities, and your well known hosting capabilities, that we occupy the 32nd spot on the ICCA rankings. Opening address at SAACI 2015 (PART 2) For live updates from the conference, click here.