During his post-budget vote industry engagement last week Thursday, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Fish Mahlalela, highlighted the importance of business events within South Africa’s economic recovery.

Speaking at this post-budget vote engagement held at the Century City Convention Centre in Cape Town on 26 May 2022, Fish Mahlalela, South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Tourism was upbeat about Africa’s bright future and South Africa’s position as a destination, stating that “It is now time for our country, South Africa, to reclaim our place as an attractive tourism and business events destination.”

Last week’s engagement saw industry leaders come together and affirm their commitment to collaborations that will ultimately see the business events and tourism sector fully recover and contribute to South Africa’s economy.  

According to an official press release received by South African Tourism, the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in Africa’s business events industry declining from US$13.6 billion in 2019 to $3.1 billion in 2020. The outlook for the sector is that the continent will reach pre-pandemic numbers by 2024.

“The move by our President to lift the National State of Disaster in April this year allows the tourism sector to once again contribute fully and meaningfully towards the South African economy and towards job creation. The easing of restrictions on gatherings has already shown to have a positive impact on business events and will provide great reprieve for the South African tourism sector and in turn, the economy,” says Deputy Minister Mahlalela.

Meanwhile, Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, chief convention bureau officer at the South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB), feels that collaborative efforts within the business events are key.

Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, chief convention bureau officer, SANCB

“The Covid-19 pandemic has made it increasingly important for us as a sector to work together, we will continue to work with the industry to actively seek to develop leads for future business events to ensure that South Africa develops and maintains a bid pipeline for continued growth of the event sector,” she noted during the engagement, during which a showcase of some of the work being done by the business events industry was presented. This includes the South African Association for the Conference Industry’s (SAACI) RISE project, which aims to provide practical support for the events industry through upskilling and training, allowing participants to gainfully participate in the tourism sector.

Deputy Minister Mahlalela concluded the engagement by pledging the government’s commitment to focus on growing and developing the business events industry.   

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