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21 November 2013

SA Tourism CEO invites the global business events industry to Africa

South African Tourism CEO Thulani Nzima invited delegates at EIBTM in Barcelona to seriously consider Africa as a destination for meetings, events, incentives and exhibitions.

Thulani Nzima, South African Tourism CEO Thulani Nzima, South African Tourism CEO

South Africa is capable and delivers on expectation with excellence. We are organised and have the skills and a track record that speaks of success. We offer the assurance of excellent, professional and awesome delivery for any event. – Thulani Nzima, SAT CEO

Nzima was addressing delegates attending the South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB) press conference held at EIBTM on 20 November 2013.

He told delegates that Africa is no longer a continent on the sidelines, but has taken centre stage. He highlighted recent International Monetary Fund forecasts that predict a 6% economic growth average in sub-Saharan Africa in 2014. The African Development Bank, he said, has also predicted rapid growth of the African middle class by 2030. Consumer spend is expected to skyrocket from US$680-billion in 2008 to US$2.2-trillion by 2030.

Nzima said South Africa’s excellent track record shows that the country means business when it comes to hosting business events.

‘South Africa is capable and delivers on expectation with excellence. We are organised and have the skills and a track record that speak of success. We offer the assurance of excellent, professional and awesome delivery for any event,’ he said.

He added that South Africa offers value for money, economic and political stability, and is a safe and secure destination for delegates, with a business events infrastructure that is extremely capable.

‘We have five international convention centres, hundreds of four- and five-star hotels that are star-graded properties guaranteeing quality, excellent airport infrastructure, world-class technology, and people with the skills and the experience to deliver the world’s most sophisticated business events.

‘Next year we celebrate 20 years in a democratic South Africa, an achievement we look forward to celebrating across all sectors of our economy,’ he told delegates.

Earlier this year, the SANCB, which has been operational for almost two years, launched its strategic positioning, ‘Rise With Us’. Nzima invited delegates to bring their events to South Africa and be part of the country’s incredible success.

Attracting international events to South Africa has been a focus of the South African government since it became a democracy in 1994.

According to the International Congress and Convention Association, South Africa has hosted 1038 international association conferences that meet its criteria since 1994. The country is ranked the number one association conference destination on the African continent, and hosted 97 international associations meetings in 2012, amounting to a third of all meetings hosted in Africa.

‘We are proud not only of the quantity of events that South Africa has hosted, but also of their quality,’ said Nzima.

For the period 2013 to 2017, the SANCB has secured 106 major bids, together with South Africa’s city and provincial convention bureaus. These meetings will bring an estimated 220 000 delegates to South Africa and will contribute significantly to the South African economy.

‘We have set ambitious targets for the industry under the leadership of the SANCB. Those targets include growing convention delegates from 54 000 in 2012 to 78 000 in 2020, and increasing the number of business events delegates from 125 600 in 2012 to 210 000 in 2020,’ continued Nzima.

One of the biggest events being hosted in South Africa is the 21 st International Aids Conference, to be held in Durban in 2016. It is expected to attract more than 20 000 delegates.

Among the recent conferences that have been held in South Africa are the 17 th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (20 000 delegates); the 30th International Congress of Psychology (6000 delegates); the fifth Brics Summit (2000 delegates); the World Federation of Societies of Intensive and Critical Care Medicine Congress (2086 delegates); and the 123rd International Olympic Committee Session (1000 delegates), to name a few.

From 2 to 5 October 2013, Johannesburg also played host to the One Young World Summit, an event described by CNN as the ‘Junior Davos’. It brought together in South Africa 1250 of the world’s most promising young leaders under the age of 30 from 190 countries, who shared a platform with the likes of Kofi Annan, Richard Branson, Muhammad Yunus and Arianna Huffington.

Meetings Africa update

Nzima also gave EIBTM delegates an update on Meetings Africa, the SANCB’s world-class business events trade show that is taking place at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg from 24 to 26 February 2014.

He said Meetings Africa is now committed to an irrevocable path of being a truly pan-African exhibition. ‘We have invited the rest of the African continent to come and exhibit at Meetings Africa 2014, and already have nine African destinations confirmed to join us on the exhibitor floor.'

Thus far, the SANCB has received 155 hosted buyer applications for Meetings Africa 2014. Of those, 55 have been approved, while 57 did not meet the criteria for qualification. More than 600 local corporate companies have thus far signed up to attend the event.

In 2013, the SANCB welcomed more than 300 international buyers to Meetings Africa, with 115 of those being first-time attendees.

‘This is more evidence that Africa has come of age as a business events destination. So again we extend the invitation for you to join us in Johannesburg for Meetings Africa 2014,’ he concluded.