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Visitor numbers at Meetings Africa increased significantly this year, translating into a great deal more exposure of Johannesburg and the rest of the continent to the international business tourism market.
THIS year’s Meetings Africa has set a benchmark in the tourism industry, breaking all of its previous records and exceeding expectations, according to South African Tourism.


The Joburg stand at Meetings Africa The Joburg stand at Meetings AfricaOf the 7 387 business meeting requests sent, 6 176 or 83,61 percent were already auctioned by the end of the first day of the three-day tradeshow, says Nomasonto Ndlovu, the global manager of business tourism at South African Tourism.

“The success of [Meetings Africa] is extremely encouraging and a great sign of things to come for our industry,” she adds.

Meetings Africa started on 21 February and ended on 23 February. This year’s tradeshow took on a green focus, with workshops to help promote greening issues. And to avoid the use of paper, electronic business cards which facilitate the exchange of contact information digitally, were introduced.

There were new additions to the tradeshow’s programme, including a corporate brunch and Golf Day, offering further opportunities for networking.

“Meetings Africa 2011 was much improved and we saw a lot of growth this year. I was particularly pleased that there was a definite increase in the number of buyers interested in Africa,” comments Beatrice Makawiti, from the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.

Exhibitors were creative, competitive and distinctive, but in the end the Johannesburg Tourism Company scooped the overall prize for best large stand ahead of tough competition from the Gauteng Tourism Authority.

Organisers say attendance numbers for this year’s tradeshow were 3 353, up from last year’s 2 899 delegates. About 123 international buyers, 32 international media and 52 delegates attended this year’s Association Day.

Meetings Africa also hosted educational seminars on how the Consumer Protection Act affects business tourism; the greening of the business tourism industry; and how the industry can better apply and adhere to global greening trends.

“The continued success of Meetings Africa ensured that South Africa remained well-poised to cement its position as one of the most intriguing and dynamic business tourism destinations in the world,” says South African Tourism.

“What remains most promising to us is that the growth of this event elevates the exposure of the African continent, our world-class facilities and uniquely African personality. In turn, this could translate to even further growth for the continent as a whole,” Ndlovu says.

The next big step for Joburg would be securing the rights to host the tradeshow permanently. This would allow it to promote its brand and entrench itself as a mecca for business and leisure tourism, says the head of the Johannesburg Tourism Company, Lindiwe Kwele.

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