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HHlolohelo Zwane, a student from Tshwane North College, recently achieved a momentous victory at the global and highly acclaimed IMEX Future Leaders Forum (FLF) competition in Frankfurt. Zwane secured first place in the IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum International University Challenge, triumphing over competitors from around the world.

Her journey to success began earlier this year when she emerged victorious in the South Africa university challenge hosted at Meetings Africa, South Africa’s owned strategic business events trade show held annually in February. There she competed against four other finalists in a unique opportunity facilitated by South African Tourism’s South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB) and Tourism Educators of South Africa (TESA).

Established in 2009, the IMEX-MPI International University Challenge provides a platform for students to showcase their innovative ideas and talents through a simulated brief. The International University Challenge was held at five Future Leaders Forums around the world during 2023 and 2024. The finals saw the five regional winners come together to compete for the grand prize which is a sponsored trip to either MPI’s World Education Congress or the MPI European Meetings and Events Conference, as well as international publicity from the IMEX and MPI PR teams.

Prof. Nellie Swart, TESA Chairperson said “TESA congratulates Ms Zwane and Tshwane North College on this remarkable achievement. She is a proud ambassador for South Africa and the education provided by our Institutions of Higher Learning. Her achievement is a confirmation of the important role of formal qualifications in tourism and hospitality towards the professionalisation of our industry. We also wish to express our gratitude to the City of Tshwane and Mrs. Nonhlanhla Seoe for their invaluable mentorship during Ms. Zwane's internship. This collaboration underscores the significance of industry-academic partnerships in equipping our students with the required skills and knowledge as they prepare for the world of work.”

Hlolohelo Zwane expressed her joy, saying, "I am absolutely thrilled and deeply honoured to have won the IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum International University Challenge. This achievement reflects my hard work and the unwavering support of my friends, family, and mentors. Competing at such a high level pushed me to grow in ways I never imagined, and it has inspired me to continue pursuing excellence in business tourism. This award is a testament to perseverance and collaboration, and I am excited to see where this journey will take me next."

“I extend huge congratulations to Hlolohelo for her remarkable success. This underscores the exceptional talent and creativity fostered within South Africa's academic institutions. For us in South Africa, youth play an important part because they create unique and innovative offerings, and this is what travellers are looking for. Empowering youth plays a crucial role to alleviate poverty. We are proud to have been part of Hlolohelo’s journey and to celebrate this achievement with her. This win on such a great global platform shines a spotlight on South Africa and highlights the fact that our country boasts a great deal of innovation. Hlohohelo’s win confirms that we really are a unique destination for meetings and business events,” said South African Tourism, Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Nombulelo Guliwe.

The SANCB has an established partnership with IMEX-MPI International and The Future Leaders Forum has long been a cornerstone of Meetings Africa, with South Africa celebrating previous triumphs in the International University Challenge. Anzelle Vorstman from the Northwest University clinched victory in 2015, followed by Kazzandra Grove, also from the Northwest University, who secured the title in 2017. Both Vorstman and Grove were honoured with the MPI Foundation Student Scholarship Award for their exceptional achievements.

Hlolohelo Zwane's remarkable success this year continues to underscore the exceptional talent and creativity fostered within South Africa's academic institutions. Her achievement not only brings honour to herself and Tshwane North College but also shines a spotlight on the nation's capability on the global stage.

Through partnering in initiatives such as the IMEX Future Leaders Forum (FLF), South African Tourism is committed to inspiring and providing more access for young people to enter the business events industry. These are the exceptional people who contribute to showcasing South Africa’s uniqueness, innovation, and attractiveness to both business events and leisure travellers inviting them to come explore the country’s vibrant landscapes.

Issued by South African Tourism

For further information, contact:

Thandiwe Mathibela

Tel: +2711 895 3177 Email: Email:


Note to editors:

South African Tourism is the national tourism marketing agency responsible for the promotion of South Africa as a preferred destination for business events and leisure. The entity focuses on showcasing the country's natural beauty, cultural richness, and diverse experiences. The South African National Convention Bureau is a business unit of South African Tourism and is responsible for maintaining the sustained growth of the number of international business events (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) hosted in South Africa. The SANCB specifically focuses on promoting the country as an attractive destination capable to host business events market. The SANCB further coordinates and support bidding for these international events.

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