The Meetings Business

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The Meetings Business

The meetings business is growing in leaps and bounds, as the world cottons onto the fact that Africa offers a unique and exciting destination, and world-class infrastructure.

Global business events across Africa are growing in popularity as more and more conference and event organisers look to satisfy a demand for unique destinations for their clients. A variety of landscapes, economic powerhouses for capital cities and an unconventional way of doing business make Africa an attractive destination for business events and incentives alike.

“The collaborative spirit and track record of good service and great hospitality from African venues can be attributed to the fact that more and more meeting planners are choosing African cities to host their events,” says Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, executive manager at the South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB).

Business-events exhibition Meetings Africa 2014, held in Johannesburg, impressed upon its delegates that, with seven of the world’s fastest-growing economies, infrastructure development occurring at a rapid pace and an expanding track record of successful event hosting, Africa has been coined ‘the world’s business event destination of the future’.

The SANCB is encouraging the South African business-events sector, as well as its African partners, to ‘Rise With Us’ – a call to the industry for companies to work together to help realise Africa’s potential as a global business-event destination.

“In this very competitive industry, where new players enter the market all the time, we need to streamline our efforts, work smarter, and work harder to stay ahead. ‘Rise With Us’ gives us the muscle to do exactly this,” says Kotze- Nhlapo.

In addition to a strong South African representation at this year’s Meetings Africa, 23 additional African countries were present. A contingent of about 150 international buyers reinforced the message that the world is ready to do business with Africa and, more important, that Africa is ready to increase its offering to the global meetings industry.

Record highs being achieved by convention centres across the continent are a further indication that the business-events industry is alive and well in Africa. The Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) reported its highest net profit to date in 2013, after only a decade of operations.

In its latest country ranking, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) reports South Africa, Kenya and Morocco as the African countries that held the largest numbers of international meetings. The association’s latest report, for 2002-2011, says Africa has seen a rise in the number of meetings over the previous decade, while other regions are pegged as stable or showing only a slow increase in numbers. Countries across Africa are taking heed of these results and have begun forming convention bureaus to bid on business events and ease the process of organising large-scale events in Africa.

The Kenyatta International Convention Centre, the state corporation mandated to spearhead conference tourism in Kenya through the Ministry of Tourism, has celebrated its wins in recent years by moving up the ICCA rankings and increasing the number of business events held in the country. “This performance demonstrates that conference tourism in the country continues to grow. It justifies the need for more convention/conference facilities of international standards in every county, more accommodation and bed capacity, and ideal transport and communication infrastructure to raise the attractiveness and capacity of the destination,” says former Ambassador Ruth Solitei from the Kenyan Ministry of Tourism.

With the growth in business travel and events in Africa, countries with economies on the rise have also invested in infrastructure and welcomed international investment from hospitality brands that will lift awareness of their destinations. Euromonitor International picks Nigeria as an example of this. An excerpt from a report on the state of the country’s tourism sector says: “The nation’s booming economy, as well as efforts by the government to develop a competitive travel and tourism industry, has been attracting Western hotel giants to establish operations in the country. Continuous expansion of the business environment in Nigeria will help to stimulate economic growth and is expected to further improve hotel growth as well as boost occupancy rates in the future.”

It’s clear that Africa is establishing itself as the business-events destination of the future with its development of convention bureaus, infrastructure projects and welcoming spirit. “These are exciting times. It’s the very best time to work in business events in Africa. The future is really incredibly ripe with opportunity. There has never been a better time for Africans to advance Africa together. And there has never been a better time for the world to rise with us,” says Kotze-Nhlapo.

Image by: Cape Town International Convention Centre

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Bewitched by the magic of France, Melissa Jane Cook is an intrepid explorer. A lover of traversing the globe, she eagerly absorbs different cultures and laps up the magnificent oceanic experiences. Wooed by words and writers alike, her penchant for facials, chocolate, owls and bugs, is surpassed only by her fascination with the stage aglow in lights or bookshelves that heave with stories, where characters invite her along on their marvellous journeys.

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