26 February 2014

South African Tourism welcomes competitor trade shows

South African Tourism (SAT) CEO Thulani Nzima says SAT welcomes competitors’ trade shows, but will protect its trade-show exhibitors and buyers, as well as its investment in Meetings Africa and INDABA.

SAT CEO Thulani Nzima at Meetings Africa 2014 SAT CEO Thulani Nzima at Meetings Africa 2014

Given the enormous potential and success of African destinations, and of South Africa in particular, it’s not surprising that there’s strong interest in our destination, and that various interest groups and multinational businesses seek to capitalise on the growth of our continent. – Thulani Nzima, SAT CEO

This follows an incident on 25 February when a delegation from trade-show/exhibition organiser Thebe Reed Exhibitions was refused entry into Meetings Africa.

Thebe Reed Exhibitions’ application to attend Meetings Africa 2014 as exhibitors had been refused, and the delegation then applied online to attend as visitors. However, online application does not guarantee entrance to the trade show.

Nzima said it was clear that the Thebe Reed Exhibitions delegation intended using its visitor status to recruit Meetings Africa exhibitors and buyers for its shows.

‘The delegation comprised salespeople in the main. In the interest of our exhibitors and hosted buyers, a decision was taken to not give them access to the trade floor, as this would have been disruptive to the business of Meetings Africa. We were protecting the interests of Meetings Africa exhibitors and buyers, and our investment in this trade show, which is Africa’s biggest, best-established and best-represented business events trade show,’ he said.

Nzima said that SAT has no problem with competitor trade shows, and welcomes competition, as any exposure of South Africa is of great value to the sector and the South African and greater African tourism industries.

‘Given the enormous potential and success of African destinations, and of South Africa in particular, it’s not surprising that there’s strong interest in our destination, and that various interest groups and multinational businesses seek to capitalise on the growth of our continent.

‘Competition, in fact, is affirmation that SAT and the South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB) have worked well with numerous partners and stakeholders to create an enabling, productive and profitable business events sector.’

Nzima said SAT and the SANCB wish Thebe Reed Exhibitions the best for its trade show that takes place in Cape Town in early May, reiterating that Meetings Africa is not available to that show’s organisers and hosts as an exhibitor or buyer recruiting ground.

‘Both Meetings Africa and INDABA are platforms for the industry. Bona fide exhibitors and buyers are welcome, in terms of free-market economy principles, to support these trade shows and any other trade show they deem fit,’ he said.

He added that neither Meetings Africa nor INDABA has a commercial imperative. ‘It’s our sole ambition in both these trade shows to offer the trade and buyers an excellent platform to do business. This year, in particular, in response to the feedback received from the industry, concerted effort has been made to increase value for both buyers and exhibitors participating in these SAT-owned shows.’

He concluded by saying that SAT is more committed than ever to ensuring that both Meetings Africa and INDABA remain acutely focused on core business: to trade, to contract, to engage and to give buyers and exhibitors an unparalleled platform to refresh and build relationships for continued arrivals growth and for the benefit of the national, regional and continental economies.