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32 / ConferenCe & Meetings World / issUe 67Show Reviewof delegates return as leisure visitors south africa tourism 40%"The National Convention Bureau will add considerable value to the country's business tourism industry," Van Schalkwyk said."It will strengthen and support efforts already being made to drive expansion in business tourist arrivals to make South Africa a truly global force. "Through confidently staging major events like the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the United Nations' COP 17 Climate Change Conference, South Africa has proven its credentials to host events of any magnitude and is well-placed to play host to any local or international meetings, incentive, conference and exhibition (MICE) event, with world-class business and conference facilities complemented by excellent leisure tourism attractions and hospitable, welcoming, skilled and competent people," the Minister added.Over the next five years South Africa has already secured over 200 international conferences, which are estimated to attract 300,000 delegates and provide an economic boost of more than R1.6bn (US$200m). The NCB also set a target for 2012/13 of supporting at least 30 bids."South Africa already boasts a 40 per cent return of delegates as leisure visitors (Melbourne has a 23 per cent return), with 43 per cent of all delegates bringing an accompanying person," Van Schalkwyk noted.Meetings Africa this year featured an Association Lekgotla; a corporate speed-dating session to introduce the variety of products; a Presentation Theatre featuring an array of expert speakers and a series of Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI) educational workshops.Rob Davidson, Senior Lecturer in Events Management at the University of Greenwich, was asked to research and deliver a report on trends in the African conference industry."In the past 10 years, six of the 10 fastest-growing economies have been in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to The Economist," he said."Angola, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Chad, Mozambique and Rwanda, all showed annual growth rates of around eight per cent or more in that period. Moreover, according to the International Monetary Fund, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Congo, Ghana, Zambia and Nigeria are all expected to be among the world's 10 fastest-growing economies between 2011 and 2015, with annual growth rates of between 6.8 per cent and 8.1 per cent," Davidson added. "Inward investment can be a key stimulating factor for international business events and, in recent years, the Africa-China connection has become an important element in Sub-Saharan Africa's growth story. Africa has not only become an important trade partner for China, but also a key beneficiary of Chinese capital investment abroad," he added.The report noted how Africa's potential as a conference destination certainly had not escaped the attention of the Chinese: the new US$200m African Union conference centre recently inaugurated in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia was entirely funded by China as a gift to the African people.According to the African Development Bank, by 2030 Africa's new middle class will comprise over 300m people spending between them US$2.2trn a year."Professional associations are often attracted by the idea of holding their conferences in destinations which offer them the opportunity of gaining new members, and African countries increasingly fit the profile of places whose populations offer fertile recruiting grounds for associations," said Davidson."I have the strong impression that cities in South Africa and in neighbouring countries will give some European destinations a run for their money in the years ahead. "If current trends continue on their upwards trajectory, we could be seeing many more high-profile events taking place in African countries." Above: Meetings Africa was the most successful in its history