Meetings Africa - the annual showcase for South Africa’s business tourism - has sent out a defiant message to the global market. With a significant increase in both buyers and suppliers, the clarion call was that Business Tourism is set to grow in the region.
The 5th edition of Meetings Africa held at Johannesburg’s state-of-the-art Sandton Convention Centre witnessed a staggering 15 % growth in exhibitor numbers with visitor numbers rising by 12%.
(Left: Moeketsi Mosola, South African Tourism CEO)“It is enormously encouraging to see this strong growth,” said South African Tourism CEO, Moeketsi Mosola in his welcome address. “This sector of the industry has every reason to feel optimistic. We enjoy this year, for the first time, partnerships with bid parties that are worth millions of Rands invested in growing not only Meetings Africa, but also business tourism arrivals to our destination.”
Mosola said he was encouraged by the number of high caliber global meetings and conferences South Africa had recently won the right to host. They included the 2009 International Near-infrared Spectroscopy Conference (with 500 delegates), the 2009 International Congress on Occupational Health (with 4,000 delegates), and the 2013 International Geological Congress (with 6,000 delegates).
Daniel Levine, an international business tourism trends expert, told delegates at the opening ceremony that if destinations were to grow robustly, they needed to provide meaningful and braggable experiences for visitors.
“The world of travel is changing,” he said. “The global financial downturn has forced people to extract as much value as possible from their travels. People no longer travel to be hedonistic. They now seek core values from their travel spend: they look for responsibility in destinations; they want to see that the environment is cared for and they want to learn and grow through travel.
“South Africa is ideally positioned to maximize on this trend. Your people, your natural beauty and your cultural heritage are naturally given to working well with business models and strategies. South Africa needs to embrace social trends to continue its already impressive business tourism growth.”
Business Tourism presently comprises four percent of South Africa’s total travel industry. However, South African Tourism is determined to grow its share of the business tourism market and it is the organisation’s ambition to propel South Africa to a top 10 business tourism destination by 2014.
(Left: Lindiwe Mahlangu, CEO of Johannesburg Tourism Company)