Opening address by Minister of Tourism, Mr Derek Hanekom, to the SAACI Congress held on 3 August 2015 in Cape Town:
We continue to hold the top position for Africa and the Middle East. This is no small feat, considering the fast evolving and dynamic global environment that we operate in.
Ladies and gentlemen, I do not want to downplay the many challenges you face in securing association events for our country.
It is imperative that the industry works together with key decision makers in government to identify and try to overcome the barriers that impact on hosting events in our country successfully.
Factors such as the safety of delegates, affordability of our offerings, air access and ease of entry into our country all impact on the success of the industry.
We are all aware that the recently introduced visa regulations have had an impact on tourism. You will also be aware that Cabinet has decided to establish a team of Ministers to consider and review the unintended consequences of these regulations.
While this process is underway, we should all reaffirm our commitment to work together, and make the best of the growth opportunities emerging around us.
The international association industry is a very competitive market, and it is driven by membership growth opportunities. Many of these rotating conferences have never been to the African continent, and Africa offers them a growth opportunity that cannot be matched by any other continent.
The African continent hosts, on average, about 350 of the 12,800 international association meetings held around the world. Hosting more of these events in Africa will make the continent more globally competitive. South Africa’s stature as the leading host destination for international association meetings is well established. Our ICCA rankings continue to get better, and this is a powerful endorsement of our country’s professionalism and excellent infrastructure.
South Africa is also well represented in the international association industry. For the first time in the 50-year history of ICCA, an African and Durbanite, Nina Freysen-Pretorius was elected president of this prestigious organisation.
The value chain of an international association meeting consists of many key elements, and a wide range of stakeholders without whom it will not be possible to organise these type of events. This ranges from professional conference organisers, venues, convention bureaus and support services, who all need to play their part in staging world class meetings. South Africa is fortunate to have globally recognised service providers that allow us to stage highly successful events.
Ladies and gentlemen, I want to assure you that you have the full support of government, and in particular the National Convention Bureau (SANCB)
This year we introduced the Tourism Incentive Programme, which is geared towards supporting market access opportunities for the industry at international trade shows. Participation at these shows is already subsidised by the Conventions Bureau as a value-added service to the industry.
Under the leadership of this bureau, South Africa has already secured 177 international association conferences for the country over the next five years, which will attract over 253 128 professionals. This will create 753 event days and generate an estimated R3.5 billion in economic impact.
I remain convinced that we are a nation of visionaries, and that our intellectual capital reaches far and wide. But we are also a nation of doers, giving life to our aspirations with creativity and innovation.
We have invested heavily in the conference and business events industry – and these events continue to be good for business and to inspire our knowledge sector. The strongest evidence lies in the huge number of professionals in different sectors that attend association events hosted in our country. Many of these professionals would never have had the opportunity, or the means, to attend an international conference. This demonstrates the wide ranging impact your initiatives have had in securing these conferences for our country.
Ladies and gentlemen, taking on the task of hosting an international conference is an enormous responsibility. I am confident that we have the right formula for success, and that, with your valuable contribution, we will achieve our aspirations for the tourism industry.
It is a great pleasure to declare that this Congress is now officially open.
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