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April 2011Conference+Meetings World www.c-mw.net17South Africa Tourism's eighth Meetings Africa show in Jo'burg was its biggest yet. Vikki Carleyreports.South Africa'smeetings meccaSouth Africa's business tourismsector is on a high. For the firsttime in the country's history, theState President, Jacob Zuma, recognisedthe importance of business tourism in hisstate of the nation address. "We arepleased with the success of our tourismsector," the President said, adding:"More than 7.3m tourists arrived inSouth Africa last year, as compared toabout 6.3m in 2009. For further growth,we will strengthen existing markets whileexploring the emerging economies. "Our country continues to be a populardestination for international gatherings.We have already secured 200 meetingsand conferences between 2010 and2016. To further boost our tourismpotential, we will amongst othermeasures, look into flexible visarequirements, improved landing slots atforeign airports as well as improvedtourism infrastructure."The address came just weeks beforethe country's annual Meetings Africaevent took place at Johannesburg'sSandton Convention Centre, organisedby South African Tourism. The event is abusiness tourism marketing platformwhich aims to expose local andinternational buyers to the range ofservices and products in SouthernAfrica's MICE industry. South AfricanTourism's Global Manager for BusinessTourism, Nomasonto Ndlovu told CMW:"The industry is hyped up followingZuma's speech. It confirms that we areall working hard and not here to playgames, and it means the work we havebeen doing with the Ministry to educateon business tourism, is all worthwhile."The eighth edition of Meetings Africaattracted 3,353 visitors, up from 2,899 in2010, and around 200 exhibitors. Therewere also 123 international hostedbuyers and this year's Association Daywas attended by 52 delegates. The show, which has become muchmore sophisticated, introduced a numberof new initiatives for 2011 includingrevised show days from Monday toWednesday allowing three full days ofinteraction, a matchmaking programme,a corporate brunch and Meetings AfricaGolf Day. It also enhanced its onlinediary system, which links to Outlook andintroduced a more advanced array ofeducational seminars in line withcompetition. "Our main objective isgrowth and we want to grow to aninternational standard," said Ndlovu. "Bythis we mean we want Meetings Africa tosit firmly in any international eventorganiser's diary, much like IMEX andEIBTM. If we want to create aninternational standard show, we need tokeep an eye on what the other shows inour sphere are doing."Meetings Africa finished itsJohannesburg contract this year, (theshow has been there for its eight-yearexistence) and a new three-year tender isout for the next host city. While Ndlovuremained tight lipped about anycontenders, she said: "Whoever bidsneeds to understand how the MICEmarket works, I can't wait for thedecision."The obvious choices are Cape Town,Johannesburg or Durban, though Ndlovusaid Johannesburg has a lot going for it."Johannesburg is the unofficial gatewayto Africa, where everything is happening.It houses the stock exchange, moreinternational corporates than any otherarea of South Africa, it's such a vibrantcity," she said.South Africa's Minister for TourismMarthinus van Schalkwyk officiallyopened the first Meetings AfricaSHOW REPORTË'We want MeetingsAfrica to sit firmly in anyinternational organiser'sdiary, much like IMEXand EIBTM' Conference+Meetings WorldApril 2011SHOW REPORTexhibition to be held after South Africa'shosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. "We have always maintained that it isimperative that we leverage the successand learning of the World Cup, especiallyin the tourism industry in South Africa. Itis clear business tourism has beenbolstered by a new sense of energy anddirection and I believe this will make asignificant contribution to consolidatingour continent's position in the globalarena and demonstrating our capabilitiesin terms of hosting international events,"the Minister said.He highlighted the important andgrowing role that business tourism willplay in helping the Government's jobcreation objectives. "Tourism contributedan estimated 7.7 per cent to SouthAfrica's Gross Domestic Product (GDP)in 2010. Business tourism will no doubtplay a role in getting more visitors toSouth Africa. The meetings andconferences we have secured in SouthAfrica over the next five years will bringmore than 300,000 delegates to ourcountry. The potential economic impactof these confirmed meetings andconferences is more than R1.6 bn(US$232m)," he said.In 2009, South Africa welcomedapproximately 500,000 business tourismarrivals, representing about 4.7 per centof total arrivals figure. This equated to atotal economic value of about R4bn, withbusiness tourists spending an average ofR5,300 during their stay in South Africa.The average length of stay of businesstourists also increased from 4.6 nights in2008 to 4.8 nights in 2009.In a recent report by the InternationalCongress and Convention Association(ICCA), South Africa was ranked 34thglobally and first in Africa for 2009 interms of the number of meetings hosted.The report showed that in 2009 almost8,300 meetings were held globally, ofwhich almost 55 per cent were held inEurope. Africa hosted 3.8 per cent of thetotal meetings or 314 meetings. Ofthese, 90 were held in South Africa,followed by Egypt with 32 meetings.Cape Town was the leading city inAfrica with a total of 49 meetings held in2009, with Johannesburg ranked fifthand Durban 10th compared to otherAfrican cities. Cape Town was ranked35th globally in the city rankings, withJohannesburg and Durban ranked at 128and 231 respectively in terms of numberofmeetings per city.Minister van Schalkwyk said the figuresshowd that South Africa and its leadingbusiness tourism cities compared very wellin terms of the rest of the continent. "Webelieve Meetings Africa will again be animportant opportunity for the entireAfrican meetings and business communityto interact and explore opportunities," hesaid. "In terms of our country's globalranking, South Africa has done well interms of maintaining its competitiveposition. I do, however, believe that thereis still room for significant growth in termsof the number of meetings we attract, thespend per visitor and the length of stay."The Minister also noted that the boostSouth Africa would receive frombecoming the fifth country in the powerfulBrazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC)partnership should be recognised. Thesecountries account for 40 per cent of theworld's population and annual globalGDP and are set to become the globalgrowth locomotive. "Collectively, these countries areexpected to outperform majorindustrialised economies over the next twoyears," said Minister van Schalwkyk."South Africa stands to gain tremendouslyfrom our inclusion into the BRICpartnership. Amongst others, we expectthat increased levels of trade andinvestment activity between South Africaand the other partner countries will alsolead to increased business travel andbusiness meetings. In addition, SouthAfrica will be able to share and learn fromthese countries in terms of businesstourism success stories and identifyopportunities for stronger collaboration inbidding for and staging major businessevents," he added.Nomasonto NdlovuTourism Minister Marthinus van SchalkwykMeetings Africa 2011 on stage for its eighth and biggest edition so far