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Inaugural Sports and Events Tourism Exchange surpasses expectations

Inaugural Sports and Events Tourism Exchange surpasses expectations

The Exchange took place at Cape Town’s International Convention Centre this week from July 27-29 2011. Building on the collaboration between the sports, events and tourism industry that resulted in South Africa successfully staging thebiggest event in the world last year, the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the exhibition and conference gave a unique platform for South Africa to set itself apart as a world leader in sports tourism.

“It gave the sports and tourism industry an opportunity to come together, to realise that there is a confident, purpose-driven generation in South Africa with the skills, infrastructure and the knowledge to attract a wide-range of sports events to South Africa in the future,” said South African Tourism Global Manager of Events, Sugen Pillay.

This focus on sports events is in line with South African Tourism’s strategy to position South Africa not only as a leader in wildlife, adventure and leisure tourism, but also as a leading global sports and events destination. 

Sports and Tourism to form an events steering committee

The conference, that attracted international and local leaders in the sporting and tourism industry, provided an opportunity to learn from the successes of other major event destinations, such as Barcelona’s Olympic Games, and to move forward with a clear sense of purpose in attracting and hosting events in the future. 


With the support of the delegates from both the public and the private sector, asteering committee was formed to drive South Africa’s sports events strategy, to explore the establishment of an events fund and to explore the criteria for the management of this fund. 

“The mandate to identify and stage events that are aligned to the strategic objectives of the country belongs to both sports and tourism. By establishing a steering committee our efforts will be far more effective and give all stakeholders the support they deserve to grow sports tourism in South Africa,” said Pillay.

Chief Director of the Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa, Professor Paul Singh, said it was imperative South Africa had a proactive plan to host major international sporting events over the next 15 to 20 years.

“The investment made by the South African Government for the 2010 FIFA World Cup needs to be sustained for the next twenty years. And our key driver will be consistently hosting major events,” said Singh. 

But he also noted the significance of smaller-scale sports events: “Given that they (smaller-scale sport events) require little or no additional infrastructureinvestment, they might be considered as offering a greater net benefit to local communities.”

Delegates and speakers at the conference highlighted the need to not only attract newevents to the country but to also grow the international stature of existingevents, such as the already successful Comrades Marathon and the Cape ArgusCycle Tour, to develop new events and to investigate other opportunities which make use of our sporting facilities and bring tourists to the country for youth sport and international friendly matches. 

International speaker and Bid Director of the successful Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games bid, Derek Casey, was impressed with the SETE initiative.

“I think it is an important conference and I wish other countries would do this as well. I think it is important for South Africa to take stock. You have important decisions to make about what events to go for and that is all part of what the strategy is for the next 10 to 15 years. I think it is important that there is greater coordination, so that you know exactly what you want to go for and why,” said Casey. 

Also speaking at SETE 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee CEO, Dr Danny Jordaan, agreed with the need for events-specific criteria prior to bidding for any events. “Criteria must be coordinated. What you had in the past was national federations of the different sporting codes bidding to host an event and the discussion (on hosting the event) happening after the decision.”

Jordaan emphasised the need to act quickly to attract events to the country to fully leverage off South Africa’s infrastructure and experience in hosting big events. “We cannot wait another 30 years to host a major event. By that time we would have to build new facilities in order to comply with the requirements of the sports confederations. Right now that gap is probably the smallest. If we wait, that gap will widen and the people that worked on the World Cup will all have retired and you will have to start training people with no events experience all over again.”

Exhibition linked serious sellers and serious buyers

Sports tour operators, sporting codes across the board, sports and tourism facilities and provincial and city tourism agencies were among the over 100 exhibitorsthat participated in the inaugural Sports and Events Tourism exchange exhibition. It gave international buyers an excellent sense of what South Africa has to offer in terms of sports tourism and gave the local industry an unprecedented platform to engage and create further competitive advantage for the future.

“The SETE exceeded our expectations. We have brought together the private and public sector and have attracted the right kind of international buyers. We organised more than 800 meetings at the exhibition which resulted in some serious contactsbeing made and some serious promises of events being brought to South Africa,” said Carol Weaving, managing director of the exhibition organisers, Thebe Exhibitions and Projects Group.

From the SportAccord International Convention, to the Taekwondo World Championships and a Powerboating World Series, a wide variety of sports events were being mooted for South Africa in the future.

The host city of SETE (Cape Town), has itself announced its intention to bid for the World Games 2017, which will use existing facilities across the metropolitan to host this event, which incorporates sports not contested in the Olympic Games.

The Sports and Events Tourism Exchange will be back in 2012 with a larger international presence expected. It will be hosted in September, with the location still to be decided.

To consolidate South Africa’s efforts in attracting business tourism and major events to the country, a National Conventions Bureau is to be set up by the end of the year at South African Tourism, with the SETE now established as a great platform to expand South Africa’s sports and lifestyle event offering.