Cape Town - A planned all-glass skybridge between the two parts of the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) could become the Mother City's latest tourist attraction, according to Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde.
The skybridge pass over the Heerengracht to connect the original CTICC development with its expansion (CTICC 2).
The official opening of the R900m CTICC 2 development was celebrated on Thursday evening with a gala event.
According to CTICC CEO Julie-May Ellingson, construction of the skybridge will start within the next few months and it is expected to be operational by the end of the year.
She said CTICC 2 will help to strengthen Cape Town's reputation as a global business events destination. The aim is to establish CTICC as one of the top-10 long-haul convention centres in the world.
CTICC 2 adds an additional 31 148m² to the complex, including 10 000m² of conference and exhibition space, as well as a further 3 000m² of formal and informal meeting space. It creates six exhibition halls, four meeting suites, five meeting pod rooms, an executive boardroom, three open-air terraces including a rooftop venue, a coffee shop, and a multi-level parking garage.
The centre has an environmentally sustainable design, high-tech venue control systems, high-calibre IT infrastructure, free public Wi-Fi, three production kitchens and a service tunnel under Heerengracht to connect CTICC 2 with CTICC 1.
Prior to the official opening CTICC 2 had already hosted close to 50 000 delegates. The 21st Annual Congress of the SA Council of Shopping Centres was the very first event hosted in CTICC 2.
Construction of CTICC 2 started in 2014 and is a joint venture between the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape Government and SunWest International.
The City of Cape Town, for instance, holds 71.4% of the shares in the CTICC and invested R550m in the expansion project as it views the expansion as a catalyst for the continued regeneration of Cape Town's inner city.
The CTICC is profitable in its own right and is regarded as an example of a successful public-private partnership (PPP). It contributed R193m to the expansion project.
CTICC 2’s construction sustained 1 337 job opportunities of which 75.5% benefited black construction workers and specialists and 7.2% of the workers on-site were women. There were also 11 engineering students working on the project of which 10 were black women building their careers in the industry.
According to Ellingson, CTICC 2 offers "unparalleled choice and flexibility".
"We can now host very large events - such as the upcoming 15 000-delegate World Ophthalmology Congress - across the entire complex. Cape Town would never have won this bid, if it wasn’t for the CTICC’s expansion," she explained.
"And we can host multiple large events across both venues simultaneously, which we couldn’t do before. Put simply, we can now welcome more events and more people in more ways.”
Regarding the potential impact of Cape Town's water crisis on the CTICC, Ellingson explained that several water savings measures had been implemented already for a number of years in order to reduce the centre’s water consumption. By the 2015/16 financial year, the centre had already been using 10 million litres less water than it did five years earlier.
As the drought intensified the centre also installed storage tanks to capture rain water and increased the grey water storage capacity. Additional augmentation systems are under consideration, but the focus remains on minimising water usage wherever possible.
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At the official opening Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said since the CTICC opened in 2003, it has generated over 16 million "visitor days" by local and international delegates who attended nearly 7 000 events.
Through its operations the CTICC has directly sustained a total of about 107 000 jobs both in the Western Cape and nationally since its opening.
Research estimates that the CTICC has made a cumulative economic contribution to the national gross domestic product (GDP) of R36.3bn and added R32bn to the Western Cape economy, according to De Lille.
“Cape Town is fast becoming the ideas capital of Africa. Organisations and businesses now choose Cape Town as a place from which to develop their Africa strategies," she said.
According to Winde, business travellers tend to spend more money when they travel and this benefits suppliers, retail and the economy as a whole.
He said delegates at CTICC-hosted conferences spent R1.3bn in 2016/17, while international delegates brought R363m in foreign exchange into our economy.
The CTICC has a total of 133 bookings for future events, with 58 international conferences secured and 75 national events contracted until December 2023. Thirteen of these events will take place concurrently in both buildings and 20 events have already been contracted to take place in CTICC 2.
For instance, FanCon Comic Con 2018 will take place in CTICC 2 in April 2018, during the same week as Decorex 2018. In February 2018 the Microsoft Tech Summit – a free training event - will take place. Africa Utility Week will take place in CTICC 2 in May 2018.
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