Tourism by association

2017-09-14 06:00

THIS week the National Convention Bureau, a division of SA Tourism, held an event bid workshop in Durban which I found to be very informative and of relevance to our tourism here on the South Coast. Usually it is our big cities that seem to attract the headline conferences that have hundreds if not thousands of delegates streaming in from all over Africa and the world. There is however scope for destinations like ours to not only be very much part of pre- and post-conference itineraries out of our metros but also to actually be the host destination itself.

A window of opportunity does exist for conferences up to about 1 000 delegates, particularly in the sphere of what is termed association meetings. Associations are usually a collective of constituted businesses, professions and organisations that have membership within a country and often affiliated to international bodies as well.

These associations usually have annual general meetings and at times secure an international conference of a rotational basis and this is where the tourism opportunity lies.

In Africa alone there are some 770 registered associations and in SA about 178 and their annual gatherings can range from less than 50 to many hundreds.

In South Africa the Mice (Meetings Incentives Conferences and Events) niche has over 211 000 meetings and as far as association meetings are concerned, 17% of delegates are accompanied by a partner. If an association meeting is international in flavour that percentage is higher and many delegates before or after the meeting take leisure time out to see South Africa before returning to their home country. The per capita spend of association meeting attendees is suggested at R6 400 per person per day which is significantly higher than the daily average for our domestic tourist who usually stay with family and friends.

The beauty of this form of tourism is that most meetings take place outside peak holiday season thus providing a good spread of year round economic benefit for our hospitality industry.

Here on the beautiful South Coast I believe we have scope to lock into the association meeting market especially when we have great venues, an efficient air service to and from Johannesburg and Cape Town and excellent road access from Durban. To this end we have established a working relationship with our provincial convention bureau and are in a position to assist associations and tourism practitioners in securing hosting rights via a well presented bid process.

I am sure that down here there are a number or individuals who sit on regional, national and possibly international committees within associations who would love to have a major conference here and show off their home turf as it were.

Ugu South Coast Tourism will gladly facilitate any bid process and form part of any presentation team required to successfully secure events of this nature to the Ugu District.

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