SA conference upgrade drives business tourism

2013-08-02 11:13

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Cape Town - South Africa is fast expanding its capacity to host large-scale events and recent investment into the country’s conferencing facilities is proving to have a positive impact on the number of events being held in the country.
This is according to Matthew Cornall, General Manager of Pepperclub Hotel & Spa, who says that South Africa is becoming a popular destination for international events, conferences and exhibitions.

“With the launch of initiatives, such as the South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB) to assist with securing bids and events for South Africa, the tourism industry is recognising business travel as a key growth market for the country.”

He says that business travellers also tend to spend, on average, three times more than their leisure counterparts. “Due to the spending potential of business tourism, and its contribution to tourism revenue and growth, there is still much potential to grow this market.”

Cornall refers to Tourist Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk’s statement this week which stated that Africa hosted only 2.7% of the 11 000 international meetings held globally in 2012.

“Previously, Durban’s International Convention Centre was the chosen destination for events, as other similar venues couldn’t accommodate numbers of that scale. However investment into the industry, such as this week’s launch of Port Elizabeth’s Boardwalk Convention Centre and last year’s announcement of the expansion of Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), has resulted in other regions having the capacity to also host large-scale events.

“These additions and upgrades to the country’s conferencing facilities play an essential role when attracting international business tourism.”

Cornall says that from an individual hotel property perspective, the Pepperclub Hotel & Spa has already noted an increase in business travellers in 2013.

He says that business tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in South Africa, as well as a significant contributor to the local hospitality industry, and that this is particularly evident in Cape Town.

“Currently ranked 60th in the world by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), Cape Town has become a premier global business tourism hub for many international business conferences, as witnessed by the city being chosen to host the World Economic Forum in May and the upcoming 2014 World Design Capital.”

Cape Town’s location has also prompted the interest of business travellers to look at the city as more than just a destination for business.

“A key attraction for business travellers when attending conferences and events is the city’s convenient location, and often delegates will indulge in leisure activities too. Business travellers are also prone to return to the destination for a holiday with their partner or family.”

He says that a key consideration for global companies when selecting a conference or event destination is the country’s affordability.

“Due to current weakened Rand and favourable exchange rates for international companies, South Africa’s affordability is even more appealing, which is positive for the country in terms of revenue and job creation, and opportunity for the industry to increase event numbers,” he said.

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