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South Africa is open for tourism and business


The emphatic message coming from the Department of Tourism during the recent Meetings Africa gathering is that South Africa is open for business..

Meeting Africa is recognised as Africa’s leading business and tourism trade show, and appeals to influential buyers from around the globe.

It’s a flagship marketing effort of South African Tourism (SAT), and focuses primarily on the so-called MICE (meetings, incentives, conference, and exhibitions) industry, with products and solutions that catch the attention of local and international buyers alike.

Meetings Africa 2012 at the same time saw the roll-out of the National Convention Bureau (NCB) which is intending to play a vital role in harnessing national tourism initiatives.

“The NCB will prove to add significant value to the country’s business tourism industry,” stated tourism minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk, “and will strengthen and support efforts already being made to drive expansion in business tourist arrivals to make South Africa a truly global force.”

Van Schalkwyk remarked that through the prosperous hosting of major events including the 2010 Fifa World Cup, the recent COP17 climate change conference, along with other sporting, business and tourism events, South Africa has built its credentials as a accredited global host.

He went on to state that South Africa carries with it an advantage in that the country has world-class business and conference facilities, but in addition exceptional leisure tourism attractions along with hospitable and friendly people.


Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk

The NCB was started in November 2011 and is led by executive director Amanda Kotze-Nhlapho, who joined up with SAT following a successful tenure as head of convention bureau and events at Cape Town Routes Unlimited.

“We are convinced that the industry is in a position to contribute to the economy,” she explained.

The NCB are able to offer services which include help and support with the planning of conventions, all facets of the bidding process, and on-site event services.

Welcome to South Africa

A presentation by Mabeka Makola, SAT’s brand experience manager, provided specifics about the organisation’s SAT’s Welcome Campaign, geared towards inspiring all South Africans to welcome visitors warmly as a result inspire them to return.

He stated that the perception of the country is a vital element not merely in bringing visitors back, but also in inspiring them to pass on the word about South Africa back home.

“It’s about every single person working together to highlight the small things that will likely have a much better influence on visitor perception in the long run.”

The initiative is going into its second phase of execution, which brings the consumer on board. Phase one was concerned with talks with the trade.

“We have to partner with small businesses to make certain that this campaign actually reaches the full potential, simply because its success depends on partnerships,” said Makola.

Significance of the BRICS partnership to South Africa
A Meetings Africa panel discussion highlighted the role South Africa’s BRICS membership has played in fuelling trade and investment in the country.

South Africa officially joined the bloc of emerging economic powers in April 2011.

Soni, Brand South Africa chairperson, told the guests the fact that the move to join BRICS has allowed South Africa to connect with the big growth economies in the world, and additionally tap into their profitable markets.

“President Jacob Zuma has shared that since we joined the BRICS family, our exports grew four-fold into those countries and our imports into the same countries doubled,” said Soni. “It therefore makes business sense to play with the largest growing economies in the world.”

She went ahead and added that to make the most of these business opportunities, long-term strategies were needed, and these were in place.


Demidova, general director at Expert Avis Marketing, pointed out that there is remarkable interest in South Africa from the Russian side. “Russians have an interest in what is happening in this country, and are checking out the destination as a possible event alternative.”

She hinted at the likelihood of direct flights between South Africa and Russia in the foreseeable future, likening the idea to the recent non-stop flight to China introduced by South African Airways.

South Africa and China have established bilateral agreements in numerous areas, including transport, education, housing, infrastructure, and water resource management.

The introduction of non-stop flights between South Africa and Russia promises to facilitate business and leisure travel in between the two countries, stated Demidova.

She mentioned that South Africa will need to continue to keep focus on issues of accessibility to the country, such as visa requirements, flight length and destination promotion. She disclosed statistics from Russia which reveal that since Latin America dropped visa requirements, travel from Russia to that region improved significantly.

Ji, Civic Group founder from China, shared Demidova’s sentiment, and suggested that the Chinese people would like to know much more about South Africa and how to do business with the country.

“Our emphasis is on cooperation and seeking for a win-win situation,” she said. “We are extremely open to forming new partnerships and are focusing on the long term interest.”

Devarajan, president of India’s largest travel group Kuoni India, mentioned that there are numerous factors to take into consideration when organizing a MICE tour.

“The planner wants a focus on logistics, access and customising an itinerary to suit the traveller, while the tourist wants to see new things, experience new sites and enjoy nightlife and shopping. Corporate visitors want more bang for their buck and are concerned about safety” he explained.

When it comes to Indian visitors to South Africa, Devarajan mentioned that their numbers would increase if hotels made available more Indian products, such as Indian television channels and cuisine.

The harsh truth for business tourism, said Soni, is the fact that South Africans will need to speak with one voice.

“Business, government, society and the media really have to communicate accurate messages, and we all need to be ambassadors for our country.”

Source: mediaclubsouthafrica.com


South Africa becomes business tourism hub

South Africa’s tourism sector will undoubtedly be enhanced substantially as a result of 200 international events confirmed to be held in the country over the upcoming five years.

The events comprise of meetings as well as conferences that will be likely to entice approximately 300 000 international delegates.

“The prospective economic benefit of the aforementioned verified meetings and conferences is a whole lot more than R1.6-billion (US$222-million),” said the country’s Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk.

Van Schalkwyk was giving a presentation at the launching of the Meetings Africa conference in Sandton, Johannesburg, on 21 February 2011. The three-day conference provides a platform to promote and encourage the development of Africa’s tourism destinations and attractions all under one roof and is also being attended by a number of international tourists.

Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk

The planned events will most likely play a role in the expansion of South Africa’s business tourism, which has gone through the roof in recent times. In excess of 500 000 international business delegates traveled to South Africa in 2009, as per the tourism department.

Business tourism accounted for 4.7% of overall visitor arrivals in 2009, a sign that recreational travel and leisure continues to lead the industry sector. Business tourists fork out approximately R5 300 ($740) during the course of their more often than not brief vacation in the country, which represents a monetary valuation of approximately R4-billion ($556-million), the department reported.

“The typical duration of stay of business tourists at the same time improved from 4.6 nights in 2008 to 4.8 nights in 2009,” Van Schalkwyk said.

Major cities score big

The country’s popular cities which include Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban are going to host the vast majority of forthcoming meetings and conferences.

Durban in KwaZulu-Natal is going to stage the very important UN Climate Change Conference later this year, probably one of the leading international events in South Africa following the 2010 Fifa World Cup. The conference is going to attract presidents and prime ministers of numerous states, amongst the many other delegates.

Environmental activists from a number of countries around the world will likewise travel to South Africa in order to attend the event.

However the climate change conference is certainly not the only major drawcard for Durban – the city will in addition host the International Transport and Environmental Conference, Commonwealth Pharmacists Association Conference and the Disabled Peoples’ International 8th World Assembly.

Johannesburg is going to also receive a significant boost as a result of the confirmed bookings. As mentioned by Lindiwe Kwele, CEO of the Johannesburg Tourism Company, the city is going to host 16 upcoming conferences. “We constantly make an effort to bring in events of international significance,” Kwele mentioned during an interview.

Lindiwe Kwele, CEO of the Johannesburg Tourism Company

Johannesburg’s upmarket Sandton is going to accommodate a number of the world and Africa’s most progressive workshops. By the end February, a minimum of five international conferences, which includes Meetings Africa, would have already been staged within the suburb this year.

The upcoming big event happening in Sandton will be the three-day Africa Roads convention in March, which is where public infrastructure role-players are going to get together to talk about techniques for ensuring safe and efficient road networks around the continent.

Hotels will definitely reap some benefits at the same time, for the reason that almost each one of these events tend to be hosted in boutique establishments. The Hilton Sandton hotel turned out to be the venue for the Carbon Markets Africa conference held in January.

Constant levels of competition within the hospitality industry seems to have triggered dazzling and vibrant marketing. “We’re just about all genuinely optimistic to receive as many visitors as is possible and receiving numerous internationals into South Africa is obviously superb,” said Kathy Davies from the Legacy hotel group.

The 5th Africa Economic Forum in March is amongst the main events that Cape Town has scooped. Similar to Johannesburg and Durban, its line-up for 2011 is without a doubt bulging.

Even though considerably small compared to the other centres, Kimberley is going to host the 7th International Wildlife Ranching Symposium in October, while Grahamstown’s Rhodes University will be the setting for the Pan African Youth Summit scheduled for September.

Growth of South African tourism

South Africa hosted 90 out of 8 300 international events in 2009 – a year in which 55% of the venues ended up being allotted to European countries.

The 200 upcoming events have been verified over the past couple of years, and in addition the tourism department expects to entice a great deal more between now and 2016.

Cape Town scooped 49 of the scheduled events in 2009, along with the International Congress and Convention Association ranking it a number-one African business host. Johannesburg was ranked fifth and Durban 10th.

Precisely the same association labeled the Mother City as the 135th leading business meeting location in the world. Johannesburg and Durban came 128th and 231th respectively.

South Africa was ranked 34th in the international rankings and number one in Africa. “These statistics clearly show that South Africa along with our leading business tourism cities compare exceptionally well with regards to the rest of the continent,” said Van Schalkwyk.

Tourism contributed approximately 7.7% to South Africa’s GDP in 2010, during which about 7.3-million tourists visited the country. “Looking at the foreseeable future, there is certainly very good news [for the travel and leisure sector],” said Van Schalkwyk.

Source: mediaclubsouthafrica.com