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28 February 2013

Meetings Africa 2013 given thumbs-up

Meetings Africa 2013 saw a record number of hosted buyers and brisk business, as well as regional cooperation to grow Africa’s share of the global business events market.

Thulani Nzima, SAT CEO, addresses delegates at Meetings Africa 2013

We are serious about advancing Africa together, and in this respect Meetings Africa 2013 was a triumph. – Thulani Nzima, CEO of South African Tourism.

There was a unanimous feeling among exhibitors, hosted buyers, organisers and delegates that the event was a resounding success. Feedback from exhibitors was that the event delivered on its promise to the industry to provide a platform rich with business opportunities.

Business was brisk, with almost 9 000 meetings held over the two days. By close of business, 2 884 delegates had come through the turnstiles.

There were 300 international, regional and local buyers in attendance, 30% more than last year. The Indian market was best represented from a buyer perspective – there were more than 30 buyers from India, while there were 20 from the United States and Canada, 13 from China, nine from Brazil, and eight each from Germany and Russia. There were also buyers from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and Ukraine.

Thulani Nzima, South African Tourism CEO, said it was very encouraging that 78% of buyers at Meetings Africa 2013 had attended the event for the first time: ‘It shows that interest in our region is growing, and growing well.’

He added that although Meetings Africa 2013 was the best-attended Meetings Africa event ever, more important was the fact that it was a quality event. ‘The show was attended by excellent hosted buyers who came here to do business. These buyers engaged with regional products and trade, and are going to send large numbers of business events delegates to South Africa,’ he commented.

Meetings Africa, which is hosted by the South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB), took a serious step forward this year to become an inclusive pan-African business events platform. ‘We are serious about advancing Africa together, and in this respect Meetings Africa 2013 was a triumph,’ he added.

Dorcas Dlamini, group national sales manager at Protea Hotels, said the group had an ‘absolutely fantastic’ Meetings Africa. ‘It was a great opportunity to learn more about the trends defining global demand. We saw a lot of clients, and were kept very busy. It’s great that Meetings Africa is taking the step of becoming a pan-African event as, increasingly, clients of Protea Hotels want to experience more of the region and subcontinent,’ she said.

Dyson Banda, assistant director of tourism at the Malawi Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture, said the event was a good and worthwhile investment: ‘We made a number of very useful contacts from the global hosted buyer group, and I am certain good business will come from those meetings.’

He added that the electronic diary system had worked very well. ‘It helped us meet the right people at the right time to do the business we came here to do. We will definitely be back next year.’

Edwin Moamogoe of the Valley Lodge Spa in the Magaliesberg added that Meetings Africa 2013 was a great investment of time – he and his colleagues met many event and conference organisers, and generated good business for the venue.

‘We were impressed with the quality of delegates, and with the very strong business focus of Meetings Africa 2013. We will be back next year, and look forward to being introduced to even more South African corporate entities,’ he said.

Since its launch at Meetings Africa a year ago, the SANCB has put a strategy in place to effect cooperation around the country and region to win more business events for South Africa. With its destination partners, the SANCB has already secured 87 association conferences between now and 2017 that will attract about 190 000 business events delegates to South Africa and will contribute an estimated R2.6-billion to the South African economy.