22 February 2013

Business events industry to self-regulate in response to Tourism Bill

Business events industry stakeholders and associations in South Africa agree that a self-regulation mechanism for the industry must be developed as a matter of urgency.

Nina Freysen-Pretorius, SAACI chairperson. Nina Freysen-Pretorius, SAACI chairperson

If we do not self-regulate, we will be regulated from outside, by the government – something we would like to avoid. Self-regulation is in the long-term interest of us all. – Nina Freysen-Pretorius, SAACI national chairperson.

South Africa’s business events industry has announced its intention to establish a recognition system for companies with proven competencies in their fields and which adhere to high standards of ethical practice.

This follows a special meeting of relevant tourism industry associations at Meetings Africa 2013.

The recognition system may involve an endorsement or an accreditation process, according to Nina Freysen-Pretorius, national chairperson of the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI).

‘We keenly participated in the formulation of the National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS). Now it is time to respond to the norms and standards on service excellence and responsible tourism in the new Tourism Bill,’ she said.

Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk presented the Tourism Bill 2012 to the government’s portfolio committee on 12 February 2013. When promulgated, it will repeal the Tourism Act of 1993. It will also introduce a legislative framework more conducive to the development of tourism as formulated in the NTSS and the 1996 White Paper on the Development and Promotion of Tourism in South Africa.

Freysen-Pretorius stressed the importance of self-regulation for the industry, rather than face a situation where the government becomes prescriptive through legislation.

‘If we do not self-regulate, we will be regulated from outside, by the government – something we would like to avoid. We would rather get ourselves organised independently and then work with the government. Self-regulation is in the long-term interest of us all,’ she commented.

SAACI began the process of professionalising the industry in 1995 with the accreditation of professional conference organisers. Freysen-Pretorius said it has now become necessary to extend the system to other SAACI forums. These are transport, technical, venues, services, exhibitions and destination marketing.

She stressed that there is no intention to duplicate efforts or introduce cumbersome measures for companies. ‘We plan to facilitate easy access to the industry and put a clear, uncomplicated industry accreditation system in place. This system should seamlessly respond to all relevant legislation, including the Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Act of 2010,’ she said.

Associations and other industry stakeholders represented at the meeting were: SAACI; the Association of South African Travel Agents; the Exhibition and Event Association of Southern Africa; the Technical Production Services Association; the Society of Incentive and Travel Executives; the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association; the Southern African Vehicle Renting and Leasing Association; the Tourism Business Council of South Africa; the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa; the South African Translators’ Institute; the International Festivals and Events Association South Africa; the Corporate Gifts Association of Southern Africa; the Institute of Marketing Management; and the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa.