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26 February 2014

Brisk business at Meetings Africa 2014

Meetings Africa 2014 provided the ideal platform to create new business connections, negotiate deals and take the continent’s business events hosting to the next level.

Deputy Minister of Tourism Tokozile Xasa opens Meetings Africa 2014 Deputy Minister of Tourism Tokozile Xasa opens Meetings Africa 2014

Meetings Africa is the one trade show where our whole continent can come together to network, build relationships and partnerships, and meet with premier buyers from numerous sectors and dozens of countries and markets around the world. – Tokozile Xasa, South Africa’s deputy minister of tourism

As the turnstiles closed on the last day of Meetings Africa 2014, delegates reported doing brisk business on the exhibition floor.

Now in its ninth year, Meetings Africa attracted 262 exhibitors and almost 1 000 hosted buyers, comprising local, regional and international buyers. This is the largest contingent of buyers ever hosted at Meetings Africa. Of these, 200 were qualified international buyers, 117 of which had never been to South Africa before.

Local hosted corporate buyers grew from 99 last year to 232 this year, an increase of 134%. Journalist numbers were up to 188 this year from 136 last year.

The theme for Meetings Africa 2014 was 'Advancing Africa Together', and this year saw significant participation from African exhibitors. There were exhibitors from Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Deputy Minister of Tourism Tokozile Xasa, who officially opened Meetings Africa with the traditional sounding of a bell, told delegates that the show is a truly pan-African platform for the business events industry.

'Meetings Africa is the one trade show where our whole continent can come together to network, build relationships and partnerships, and meet with premier buyers from numerous sectors and dozens of countries and markets around the world. It enables the continent to show its accessibility and outstanding business events facilities,' she said.

She invited international meeting and incentive planners, conference organisers and business events buyers to consider Africa – a continent that she described as varied, fascinating, and also infrastructure-rich, skilled and experienced in business events hosting.

Commenting on the South African events industry, she said that while exceptional growth has already been achieved in its business events sector, the country has only just begun to unlock the sector’s potential and is working to grow the size of the business events industry by at least 50% between now and 2020.

Xasa added that business events not only contribute to the economy, but also create a platform to develop the country’s intellectual capital and showcase sectors where South Africa demonstrates global leadership.

She also highlighted the significance of 2014, the year that South Africa celebrates 20 years of freedom and democracy.

'Over the past 20 years, South Africa has made great strides as a business events host and is the most popular business events destination on the continent,' she said.

In 1994, the first year of South Africa’s democracy, the country hosted just 12 international association conferences recognised by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). Those conferences attracted just 5 950 business events delegates to South Africa.

In 2012, the number of ICCA-recognised association meetings hosted by South Africa had increased to 97. These had attracted 52 587 delegates to the country and injected an estimated R663-million into the South African economy.

South Africa is currently ranked 37 th by the ICCA on its list of worldwide country rankings. The ranking is calculated on the number of ICCA-recognised association meetings hosted by a country according to specific ICCA criteria. According to ICCA statistics, South Africa has hosted 1 290 international association conferences that has met its criteria since 1994.