19 May 2014

South Africa shines as Africa’s top business events destination

The 2013 ICCA rankings confirm South Africa as the leading business events destination in Africa.

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

This feat would not have been possible had it not been for the truly remarkable contributions of all the members of the South African tourism industry and association bodies. It is their seamless execution of conferences and meetings, as well as their dedication to our vision and mandate, that has clearly cemented South Africa’s growing reputation in this industry. – Thulani Nzima, SAT CEO

South Africa gained three places in the 2013 International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) rankings and is now placed 34th in the world, up from 37th. This has given South Africa’s credentials a major boost and cemented its position as Africa’s top business events destination. 

In 2013, South Africa hosted 118 meetings, officially making it the number one convention destination in Africa and the Middle East. In addition, two of the country’s cities, Durban and Cape Town, are placed in the top 100 cities in the world for business events.

Thulani Nzima, South African Tourism CEO, said South African Tourism and the South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB) are exceptionally happy with the announcement. 

‘Our hard work and the execution of the "Rise with Us" strategy launched by the SANCB last year is clearly bearing fruit. We launched it to address and change the misconceptions the global industry has about South Africa, and it seems the message is being well received.’

Nzima added that South African Tourism and the SANCB can't, however, take all the credit. ‘This feat would not have been possible had it not been for the truly remarkable contributions of all the members of the South African tourism industry and association bodies. It is their seamless execution of conferences and meetings, as well as their dedication to our vision and mandate, that has clearly cemented South Africa’s growing reputation in this industry,’ he said.

The SANCB was launched in 2012 to help grow and position the country as a favourable business events destination. At the time of its launch, South Africa had already hosted numerous mega-events and meetings and conferences of global significance, which had catapulted the nation’s skills and capabilities into the international spotlight. 

Before 1994, the first year of our democracy, South Africa hosted 12 international association conferences. That number grew to 118 ICCA-recognised meetings in 2013. Since 1994, South Africa has hosted 1 038 international association conferences that have met the ICCA’s criteria, and it remains ranked in the top 11 long-haul destinations globally.

Among the events successfully hosted by South Africa are the International Aids Conference – it took place in 2000 and South Africa won the right to host it for a second time in 2016 in Durban, where an estimated 20 000 delegates are expected to attend; the 123rd Session of the International Olympic Organising Committee, which took place in Durban in 2011; the World Congress on Intensive and Critical Care Medicine in 2013, which attracted 10 000 delegates; and the 2013 One Young World Conference, which took place for the first time in Africa in Johannesburg.

Many of the meetings and conferences hosted have not only showcased the country’s world-class infrastructure and capabilities, but also a united industry and a committed government working together to take the industry forward – and in so doing, growing South Africa's global reputation for the benefit of all businesses in the sector. 

'They have also done a sterling job of showing why South Africa, and indeed South Africans, are highly regarded as experts in various industries,' said Nzima.

He added that the improvement in the ICCA ranking is not only a win for South Africa, but also for the continent as it encourages African associations to work together in a bid to win more events for the continent.

‘Our success as a destination is made sweeter when our counterparts from the continent win as well. We need to collaborate and unite with our counterparts on the continent if we want to be a destination to be reckoned with on the business events front,’ he said.

It is for this reason that the SANCB manages and hosts the continent’s pan-African business events trade show, Meetings Africa, which delivers a quality business platform for growing Africa's business events industry. 

Next year Meetings Africa celebrates its 10th year, and is now firmly established as the biggest, best-represented and most valuable business events trade show on the continent.

‘We’re excited about the growth of Meetings Africa and how it brings the best of Africa under one roof. It is an excellent business platform, an opportunity to discuss, network and work on ways in which we – as players in the business events sector – can and should pool together for the betterment of the industry and of Africa,' said Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, the SANCB's executive manager.

Meetings Africa 2015 takes place from 23 to 25 February at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. The SANCB is currently participating at the IMEX Frankfurt exhibition.