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19 February 2013

Meetings Africa 2013 focuses on partnerships to advance Africa

The theme of Meetings Africa 2013 is ‘Advancing Africa Together’, with a focus on African professionals partnering to transform the continent.

Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk officially opens Meetings Africa 2013

The rich potential for growth that the global and regional markets offer this industry is immense. It will be best realised if we unite as destinations across the African continent to give the world one irresistible offering for business events. – South African Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk.

South African Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk officially opened Meetings Africa 2013 on 19 February.

He told a packed exhibition hall at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg that Africa is united in its ambition to realise new economic investment, grow tourist arrivals and unlock the job-creation potential within the business events industry.

‘The rich potential for growth that the global and regional markets offer this industry is immense. It will be best realised if we unite as destinations across the African continent to give the world one irresistible offering for business events,’ he said.

Van Schalkwyk said Meetings Africa provides the ideal platform to initiate better and more inclusive continental partnerships that can untap the potential of the continent as a business events destination.

‘While competition between destinations is a good thing, cooperation to grow value, widen the variety of experiences on offer, and increase awareness of what this continent offers is how we will all reap major benefits,’ he said.

Van Schalkwyk pointed out that the business events industry has a significant influence on the country’s macro-economy: ‘It stimulates international markets for locally produced goods and services. It builds business contacts, and trade and research links. It also creates access to new technologies, ideas and professional networks. It is thus indispensible if we want to compete in the prevailing knowledge economy.'

He highlighted the achievements of the new South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB), which launched at Meetings Africa 2012.

‘Back then we promised that under the SANCB, the business events industry would become more strategic, more focused, and more growth-orientated. Since then, the SANCB has put in place an ambitious but reachable growth strategy and is setting its sights wider than our immediate backyard,’ he said.

Thus far, the SANCB and its destination partners have secured 87 new association meetings between 2013 and 2017. These meetings will contribute an estimated R2.6-billion to the South African economy. For 2013, the SANCB has secured 38 association meetings. These will bring more than 57 000 delegates to South Africa and contribute R680-million to the economy.

Meetings Africa 2013 has attracted 330 local, international and regional hosted buyers. Of the 330, 164 are international buyers, 78% of which have never before attended Meetings Africa.

Van Schalkwyk also told delegates that Africa is determined to advance its global International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) ranking. South Africa is currently ranked 37th on the ICCA's list of the world’s top business event destinations. It is ranked 15th in the long-haul destination category, and is the number one business events destination in Africa.

'South Africa’s track record shows that we mean business. We’ve hosted some of the world’s most significant and successful events in recent years. These include the 2010 FIFA World Cup – formally acknowledged as the very best FIFA World Cup ever; the United Nations COP 17 climate-change conference in 2011; and, most recently, AFCON 2013. We are also hosting the fifth BRICS Summit in Durban in March 2013,’ he concluded.