28 February 2012

Media Statement by the Office of Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Tourism

Minister van Schalkwyk at the opening of Meetings Africa 2012

Partnership is key to South Africa’s business tourism growth. Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk

‘Partnership is key to South Africa’s business tourism growth’, says Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk as he opens Meetings Africa 2012

SOUTH AFRICA has made great strides in elevating its big event host status and is fast becoming one of the world’s favourite destinations for big events, meetings, conferences and exhibitions, South Africa’s Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said as he opened Meetings Africa 2012 today.

And as South Africa looks to aggressively pursue a bigger share of the global business tourism market, Minister van Schalkwyk said the newly-established National Convention Bureau (NCB) at South African Tourism would be critical in harnessing national business tourism efforts.

Established in November 2011 and headed up by its Executive Manager, Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, the NCB will act as a ‘one-stop shop’ for independent information and assistance, giving neutral advice on all aspects of hosting and organising any business tourism-related event in South Africa. The NCB will co-ordinate national bidding, undertake research and collaborate with national convention centres and the business tourism industry to present a united front for destination South Africa.

“The National Convention Bureau will add considerable value to the country’s business tourism industry. It will strengthen and support efforts already being made to drive expansion in business tourist arrivals to make South Africa a truly global force. Through confidently staging major events like the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the United Nations’ COP 17 Climate Change Conference, South Africa has proven its credentials to host events of any magnitude and is well-placed to play host to any local or international Meetings, Incentive, Conference and Exhibition (MICE) event, with world-class business and conference facilities complemented by excellent leisure tourism attractions and hospitable, welcoming, skilled and competent people,” said Minister van Schalkwyk at Meetings Africa 2012, the country’s premier gathering of all the products and components of South Africa’s business tourism industry, currently being held at Johannesburg’s Sandton Convention Centre (SCC).

The NCB will offer the following services (amongst others):

· Pre- and Post Bid support - Bid promotion; Handling of Request for Proposals

· Provide Destination Expertise - Meeting Planner Website; Meeting Planner Guide; Expertise on Local Products and Services; Access to Local Industry & Government Contacts

· Building Attendance

· Convention Planning Support - Site Inspections (bid and convention planning)

· On-site Event Services

South African Tourism has prepared an 18-month implementation plan for the bureau, including the preparation of a national bidding policy and guidelines for the selection of suitable events. The NCB, through an extensive stakeholder engagement process, is now working collaboratively with the business tourism industry on the Bureau’s activation strategy and business plan.

Over the next five years South Africa has already secured over 200 international conferences, which is estimated to attract 300 000 delegates and provide an economic boost of more than R1.6 billion. The NCB also set a target for 2012/13 of supporting at least 30 bids, with a potential of 18000 delegates and R162 000 000 direct economic spend.

“South Africa already boasts a 40% return of delegates as leisure visitors (Melbourne has a 23% return), with 43 % of all delegates bringing an accompanying person (leisure tourist, who spends R1000 p er day during their visit), therefore the profiling of our destination to the conference delegate through i.e. delegate boosting, our e-marketing strategy, amongst other aspects, is very important in the service delivery of the NCB. We will encourage business travellers to stay longer to explore our country’s tourist offerings and of course to return with their families, therefore the National Convention Bureau is an important addition to our work at SA Tourism,” said Minister van Schalkwyk.

“We want to, through the NCB and through the continued growth of the Meetings Africa platform, make our destination more competitive in this market. We want to grow our global market share, which will require government and the private sector to work closely together as partners to shape the future of business tourism, to grow business tourist arrivals, and to fulfill the rich potential of destination South Africa as a business tourism destination. We are currently gaining important advice and input from a range of stakeholders as we roll out the NCB. They include specialists who service the business tourism industry; specialists from each of the major regional convention bureaus, the provincial tourism authorities and the private sector. These people, collectively, hold a wealth of knowledge and experience that can benefit our destination and we want to take their experience on board,” Minister van Schalkwyk added.

The NCB will officially start to operate in April 2012, but its work will be introduced at Meetings Africa to give all stakeholders an opportunity to acquaint themselves with the Bureau; to learn more about its role as a strategic facilitating platform that enhances their work.

More than 200 international hosted buyers are attending Meetings Africa this year, engaging with the South African and regional industry to conclude deals that seeks to grow business tourism arrivals.

The buyers, hosted by South African Tourism, come from 18 markets which include the United Kingdom, USA, Australia, Kenya, Germany, Netherlands, China, Brazil and Nigeria.

“South Africa’s capability and infrastructure for business tourism is superb. Besides the three big national convention centres in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, our destination is home to numerous other facilities that give the world’s meetings and conference organisers the same quality, variety and choice that South Africa offers across the larger tourism sector. Meetings Africa is a resource for the entire industry to network, exchange ideas, learn from global leaders in the industry and to conduct deals to grow both their own insights into trends and developments in the industry, as well as grow arrivals for the destination. It has become the biggest and most important resource for the industry, and an event we all look forward to with immense excitement and anticipation,” said Minister van Schalkwyk.

Meetings Africa this year features an Association Lekgotla; a corporate speed-dating session to introduce the variety of products; a Presentation Theatre featuring an array of expert speakers and a series of Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI) educational workshops.

Meetings Africa 2012 is held at the Sandton Convention Centre from Tuesday, February 28 to March 1, 2012. The exhibition is owned by South African Tourism, national destination marketing organisation of South Africa in partnership with Gauteng Tourism, Joburg Tourism and Sandton Convention Centre.

For media accreditation please register online at www.meetingsafrica.co.za.

ENDS

Issued by South African Tourism

For further information contact:

South African Tourism

Thandiwe Mathibela

Tel: +27 11 895 3000

thandiwe@southafrica.net

Ministry of Tourism

Melene Rossouw

Tel: 021 465 7240/ 082 753 7107

Email: mrossouw@tourism.gov.za

Natasha Rockman

Tel: 021 465 7240

Email: nrockman@tourism.gov.za