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Joburg builds world-class hospitality credentials

Joburg builds world-class hospitality credentials

The city of Johannesburg is poised to add another feather to its illustrious business cap when it steps up to host of the 2010 Hospitality Investment Conference Africa from 31 October to 2 November.

The move reflects the City of Gold’s fast-growing reputation as the business capital of Africa. In the past 24 months alone, it has opened 19 new hotels, adding to a host of infrastructure upgrades that are helping to transform Joburg into a model of urban living.

HICA 2010 is scheduled to take place at the Sandton Sun Hotel and the main theme is “Sustainable Growth of Africa’s Hotel Market Share”.

Lindiwe Kwele, Chief Executive, Johannesburg Tourism Company, told Breaking Travel News that the event will allow delegates to appreciate the large amount of hotel investment that has taken place in the city over the past two years.

She says: “Business tourism is the key driver for our tourism growth and development. Hosting HICA gives us an opportunity to reinforce our positioning of being Africa’s leading business tourism destination.”

“The event will not only boost our hotel occupancy, increased arrivals and length of stay but will also enable the potential investors to see the strides that we have made as a destination and help us promote Joburg as a potential destination for investment.”

(Sandton, Johannesburg - the business hub of Africa)

In 2011 the conference will head to North Africa, where it will be hosted in Casablanca, Morocco before returning back to South Africa in 2012.

Next year’s event also marks a new partnership between its founders, the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) and UK-based Bench Events.

TBCSA Chief Executive Officer Mmatšatši Marobe says the objective of the partnership is to grow the HICA platform to cover the whole of Africa, thereby helping to develop the hotel and hospitality sector on the continent.

“The partnership with Bench Events will help grow HICA into one of the foremost hospitality investment conferences in the world, as they bring considerable expertise and valuable industry networks to the event”.

HICA joins a list of prestigious hotel investment conferences managed by Bench Events including the International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF) in Berlin, the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) in Dubai, the Russian & CIS Hotel Investment Conference (RHIC) in Moscow, as well as the Central Asia and Turkey Hotel Investment Conference (CATHIC) in Istanbul. These conferences are attended by leaders and decision-makers representing the hotel and investment community from across the world.

Mandela Square, Johannesburg, during FIFA World Cup 2010

Joburg, meanwhile, is riding a crest of a travel and tourism wave, following its role as the epicentre of the FIFA 2010 World Cup, which has given its tourism industry not only something to celebrate but also a strong legacy to build upon.

This sentiment is supported by a preliminary Grant Thornton study, which points out that Johannesburg is likely to have had the highest impact from the World Cup. While hosting the lion’s share (some 32 percent) of World Cup fixtures and activities, Joburg certainly pulled out all the stops to give visitors the experience of a lifetime.

Soweto Marimba Youth League play in the shadow of Soccer City

With consumer spending by overseas visitors reaching record highs, the local hospitality industry has reaped the benefits of its hard work and investments over the past few years, with extraordinary occupancies and patronage during the World Cup period.

Grant Thornton statistics indicate occupancies ranging from 86.8 percent in the Sandton CBD, to 83.5 percent in the Greater Johannesburg area, and 79.0 percent at ORT.

The data still needs to be fully analysed in order to attain accurate figures (as per the CoJ 2010 Economic Impact Assessment results), but early indications point to one million visitors to Joburg during this time – comprising domestic, continental and international guests.

(French soccer legend Patrick Viera with the Miss World finalists at a reception at the new SAS Radisson Blu Gauteng during the FIFA 2010 World Cup)

One of the chief architects of the World Cup success has been the Johannesburg Tourism Company (JTC), which is dedicated to promoting tourism growth in Johannesburg.

During the tournament, the JTC served as the crucial link between sport and tourism, and promoted Johannesburg as a business, sports, events, lifestyle and leisure destination both locally and internationally. Its main vehicle was its “Joburg Rocks” campaign, which highlighted the city’s many tourism attractions beyond the 90-minute football matches.

(Young tour guides show Miss World finalists around Alexandra Township - a project spearheaded by the Johannesburg Tourism Company to ensure that South Africa hosting the 2010 World Cup leaves a legacy beyond football)

The inclusion of youth in tours of their own township promises to leave a lasting legacy that will improve pride and perceptions about Alexandra Township as a tourist destination, not only to outsiders, but to them as residents as well. )

The Grant Thornton presentation includes the African Response Survey, which indicates that 96 percent of World Cup visitors to South Africa said that they would possibly return to the country, while 92 percent would recommend the country to friends and family as a holiday destination.

(Outside Nelson Mandela’s former home)

While supporting and leveraging SAT initiatives to ensure the return of visitors, as well as attracting new visitors (diversifying overseas source markets), Johannesburg Tourism Company has consolidated Joburg’s position as trading hub of the region and continent. This will increase opportunities for investment in budget hotel accommodation, as well as increasing leisure expenditure/share of wallet. 

Joburg’s World Cup readiness and legacy initiatives included youth development, enhancing tourism service standards, information dissemination, signage and workforce skills.

(The tour guides with JTC chief Lindiwe Kwele and her team at the inaugural World Sport Destination Expo)

On a broader macroeconomic scale, the City now boasts increased hospitality and tourism products, an integrated public transport network, world-class transport infrastructure upgrades, better connectivity – as well as extensive positive media attention.

The location of two major stadia in the City positions Joburg favourably as a pre-eminent destination for sports tourism and mega-events.

(FIFA general-secretary, Jerome Valcke, and FIFA Local Organising Committee chief executive, Danny Jordaan travelling with the 32 Miss World finalists on the new Reya Veya to the stadium)

One of the great success stories to emerge from the 2010 FIFA World Cup has been the Rea Vaya – Johannesburg’s new rapid bus system that whisks fans from points across the city to games at two host stadiums, Soccer City and Ellis Park.

Meanwhile the launch of the Gautrain has exceeded expectations – initial estimates for usage were between 3,000-6,000 people a day, but current figures indicate approximately 13,000 on weekdays and 20,000 at weekends.

Aside from youth development, and fostering an unprecedented interest in the country, one of the most valuable and precious legacies is certainly the unifying effect this mega-event has had on the nation and the individual spirit.

(Left: Lindiwe Kwele, CEO, Johannesburg Tourism Company on the first day of WSDE in Johannesburg)

The nation is aiming to build on this renewed sense of pride and patriotism, as well as the sense of anticipation for tackling all the challenges which lie ahead – and which will lead to even greater heights for South Africa and its cities as major global players.

Sport is integral to making new opportunities. The nation has been bold in creating opportunities in the hosting of global mega-events. But now the challenge is to ensure that its superb stadiums are utilized to their full potential, so South Africa is positioning itself as a hub of sport tourism.

During this year’s World Cup, Johannesburg took a lead by hosting the first exhibition dedicated to showcasing the $600 billion a year sport tourism industry.

(World Cup and Olympic hosts Brazil played a key role at WSDE. Featured here Nilo Felix, the Rio representative of Embratur, and Valieria Dias, Directora de Projetos, Ministero do Esporte, Brazil, making a keynote speech)

Staged at the Sandton Convention Centre, World Sport Destination Expo featured 400 exhibitors from 22 locations worldwide and some 50,000 visitors. From Abu Dhabi to Rio de Janeiro the world’s leading destinations engaged in five days of top-level debate, interaction and the tabling of lucrative future business deals.

To register for HIC or to find out more about the conference, view the speaker line-up and programme, delegates must visit the HICA website at