From its ruling position as the sub-continent’s business hub, Joburg is hosting Meetings Africa, a massive tourism trade expo for the meetings, incentives, conference and exhibitions industry.
EXHIBITORS, the media, business tourism stakeholders and international buyers are expected at South Africa’s biggest business tourism gathering – Meetings Africa – to learn about and discuss new ideas, trends, products and innovations in the meetings, incentives, conference and exhibitions industry.
Lindiwe Kwele, JTC CEOLindiwe Kwele, JTC chief executiveThe lekgotla of the tourism business, as it is known, takes place at the Sandton Convention Centre from 21 to 23 February.
Meetings Africa offers the business tourism industry a platform to market brands and countries, and aims to expose local and international buyers to the range of services and products in southern Africa’s meetings, incentives, conference and exhibitions industry.
It is key to the central growth strategy of South Africa’s tourism sector, and because it will be hosted in Johannesburg, the Joburg Tourism Company (JTC) can’t wait to “showcase our city in line with our Rediscover Joburg destination activation campaign”, says Lindiwe Kwele, the chief executive of the JTC.
Kwele says the City-owned entity is anticipating an increased number of visitors and will use the event to “aggressively” promote Joburg as a leading global destination for business tourism, as it is a key driver for economic growth and development. “The action in Joburg certainly never stops.”
Since hosting the football World Cup, she says, Joburg has experienced a positive paradigm shift when it comes to perceptions of everything from lifestyle appeal to safety and security.
“Now it’s incumbent on us to seize the opportunity to maintain the momentum and continue showcasing Joburg as never before in the face of increased overseas media interest and positive perceptions. What’s more, the World Cup has left us with a legacy of not only improved infrastructure and unique transport features, but increased hotel inventory and spectacular stadiums we need to fill.”
According to the JTC, one of Johannesburg’s major competitive advantages is its international recognition as the business and commercial capital of the African continent. Given its accessibility by air and that 75 percent of corporate headquarters are based in the city, Johannesburg’s success as a tourism destination pivots on business.
Thousands of visitorsThe football World Cup was a boon for South African tourism“Joburg is open for business and we have the capacity to host events across a spectrum of size, scope and price. Our conventions bureau and events team is also primed to assist with supplying all the necessary advice and support services relating to meetings, conventions, exhibitions and incentives,” says Kwele.
In 2009, about 500 000 business tourists visited South Africa, representing 4,7 percent of total arrivals in the country and contributing more than R2,4-billion to tourism’s foreign direct spend. The sector is hoping to expand this market even more and establish South Africa as an attractive, viable and world-class business tourism destination.
“Johannesburg is a versatile business and mega-events destination, capable of handling a vast array of events from small meetings to massive international gatherings, conventions, concerts and sports tournaments. When people think events, they should think Joburg,” Kwele explains.
Last year’s Meetings Africa recorded its highest attendance yet of international hosted buyers, overall visitors and exhibitors. There was a 14 percent increase in the number of international buyers at the event, a 28 percent rise in overall visitors, a 25 percent increase in exhibitors and a 20 percent rise in media attendance.
It generated 2 216 scheduled business appointments from 365 online diaries, with both exhibitors and visitors reporting that the exhibition had been taken to new heights.
Organisers believe that this year, it will reinforce South Africa’s capacity to host the world’s biggest events, conferences and exhibitions. The expo targets anyone who travels to and within South Africa for business, as well as organisers of events, conferences, meetings and team incentive trips or team-building activities.
“South Africa has become a premier meetings destination and Meetings Africa is the most important platform to learn about and discuss new ideas, trends, products and innovations in the major meetings, conferences and exhibitions industry. If you or your company are planning a major meeting or conference, South Africa is undoubtedly among the best destinations in the world and attending Meetings Africa is essential,” explains Nomasonto Ndlovu, South African Tourism’s global manager for business tourism.
Ndlovu says Meetings Africa is focused on increasing the number of local corporate visitors, while building strong networks and educational platforms and enriching the international hosted buyer programme.
This year, organisers promise a range of new initiatives, including a golf day, educational seminars, an exhibition on greening in line with international standards, and an exhibitor categorisation to help visitors navigate the show better and maximise limited time.
AccommodationExhibitors at Meetings Africa include accommodation providersThere will be an association day for learning and sharing for national associations, followed by a networking function. Issues to be highlighted include business tourism’s growing importance to South Africa’s tourism industry.
Thandiwe January-Mclean, the chief executive of South African Tourism, says the conference is growing each year. “Meetings Africa is gaining international stature each year, which is due to South Africa’s meeting and incentive industry that is fast maturing, offering a wide variety of products and solutions to choose from, as well as its high levels of sophistication.”
Visitors expected to attend include local and international meeting and event planners; corporate executives who book business travel; travel agencies specialising in incentive, business and conference travel; conference organisers; sales and promotion agencies; marketing companies and public relations and advertising agencies.
Exhibitors include national and provincial tourism authorities, convention and visitor bureaux, international convention centres, conference and exhibition centres, conference hotels and accommodation providers, destination management companies, event management specialists, transportation companies, luxury trains, cruise liners, spa and wellness resorts, trade associations and travel trade publications.
The visitor target market is anyone who travels for business or who books business travel as well as organisers of events, conferences, meetings, team incentive trips or teambuilding activities.
For more information about Meetings Africa, visit its website.
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