SA top African business travel destination

2012-07-30 14:56

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Johannesburg - South Africa remains in the top 15 ‘long-haul’ business events destinations in the world and is the premier business events destination in Africa, says Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk.

“Our ambition is to compete with the biggest and best business events destinations in the world,” he told delegates at the opening of the annual Southern African Association of the Conference Industry conference on Monday.
“As government continues to focus on tourism as one of the key job creating sectors, we recognise business events tourism as an area with significant growth potential,” Van Schalkwyk said.
Government had established the first South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB) to further promote growth in the conferencing industry. The SANCB is tasked with co-ordinating national bidding, undertaking research and collaborating with City and Provincial Convention Bureaus and the business events industry to present a united front for destination South Africa, he said.
He said for the next five years, South Africa has already secured over 200 international conferences, that are estimated to attract 300 000 delegates and an additional R1.6  billion to the economy.
In 2011, according to a departure survey, South Africa had 392 000 business travellers, of which 140 000 attended conferences and meetings. 

Van Schalkwyk said his department had set a target of 15 million international arrivals by 2020 and that SANCB was targeting 81 500 convention delegates and 130 association meetings by 2020.

For this to be achieved, the country had to increase the business events industry by 57%.

It also had to double the sector's contribution to tourism and improve geographic distribution.

Van Schalkwyk said his department would need to support at least 30 bids for international meetings this year with a potential of 18 000 delegates.

These would contribute R162m in direct economic spend.

The department wanted to grow the average number of delegates attending international conventions in South Africa from an estimated 54 000 in 2012 to 78 000 by 2017.

"These are targets we can reach, but to do so will demand deepening our partnership."

Hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the United Nations' COP 17 Climate Change Conference had proved the country's credentials, he said.

"We are also identifying key industries and sectors that can help us to win more meetings and will work closely with local industry associations."

Van Schalkwyk said government was focusing on creating conditions that would help bids succeed.

These included building infrastructure, enhancing air travel, especially from Africa, and streamlining visas.

"We must ensure that our people share in the benefits of MICE tourism growth... we must create special skills to deliver service excellence and the capacity of SMMEs to share in its benefits."

According to the country rankings by the International Congress and Convention Association, including both long- and short haul destinations, South Africa ranks 37th:

1 US - 759
2 Germany - 577
3 Spain - 463
4 United Kingdom - 434
5 France - 428
6 Italy - 363
7 Brazil - 304
8 China-P.R. - 302
9 Netherlands - 291
10 Austria - 267
11 Canada - 255
12 Switzerland - 240
13 Japan - 233
14 Portugal - 228
15 Republic of Korea - 207
16 Australia - 204
17 Sweden - 195
18 Argentina - 186
19 Belgium - 179
20 Mexico - 175
21 Poland - 165
22 Finland - 163
23 Turkey - 159
24 Singapore - 142
25 Denmark - 140
26 Norway - 138
27 Chinese Taipei -131
28 Greece - 127
29 Malaysia - 126
30 Hungary - 125
31 Czech Republic - 122
32 Colombia - 113
33 India - 105
34 Ireland - 105
35 Thailand - 101
36 Chile - 87
37 South Africa - 84
38 Hong Kong, China-P.R. - 79
39 Croatia - 72
40 Russia - 69

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