Organisers of the Meetings Africa open the doors again in Johannesburg to the business events trade show, 28 February, as the continent’s MICE industry finally gets to rally in person again.
The event runs until 2 March 2022 at the Sandton Convention Centre, the traditional host of Meetings Africa, with organisers predicting a total of a thousand exhibitors, buyers and delegates from around the world will attend in person.
South Africa National Convention Bureau’s (SANCB) chief convention bureau officer, Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, said she was “delighted” the flagship event is back on the tourism calendar after last year’s cancellation due to Covid-19.
“To host a trade show after such tough times is testament to the business events industry’s resilience. It is important for us to host a physical event because people in this sector have the desire to explore new ideas, to network and to connect. International buyers are, once again, turning to the continent for new and innovative travel packages, and they recognise that Meetings Africa is the best place to find them,” said Kotze-Nhlapo.
The overarching Meetings Africa 2022 theme ‘Shared Minds, Shared Economies’ calls for a cross-pollination of people and ideas. After two years of not seeing each other, it is time to, once again, open business and travel safely and freely so as to grow and solidify partnerships,” said Kotze-Nhlapo.
The years 2020 and 2021 were meant to be bumper years for South Africa’s MICE industry, but the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in many international and regional business events being cancelled, and others hosted virtually. The SANCB, with the local industry, had to postpone 36 events in the last two years. These events, now going ahead in 2022 and 2023 in hybrid formats, will potentially attract 18,473 delegates to the country, generating 144 event days with an estimated R461m (US$29.8m) contribution to the economy.
The SANCB said it is working hard with the local business event industry to replenish the secured business events pipeline for South Africa. During the first three-quarters of the 2021/22 financial year (1April 2021 to 31 March 2022), the country submitted 66 bids to host international business events between 2022 and 2027. Of those bids, South Africa has won 20 so far. These secured bids are expected to contribute R269m to South Africa’s economy and attract 8,775 international and regional delegates in that same period.
Organisers of Meetings Africa say 156 exhibitors range from national carriers to multinational hospitality groups.
BONDay (Business Opportunity Networking Day) kicks off proceedings with a talk from South African motivational speaker Justin Cohen on identifying one’s own strengths and unleashing potential. He will be followed by an overview of the Business Events industry by Desiree Baltussen, the chief business development officer for the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), and a talk by Boipelo Tladinyane Hlubi on what it is like to be a woman travelling through Africa’s 54 countries.
For the first time, the Africa Business Tourism & MICE Masterclass will be hosted at Meetings Africa 2022. Taking place on 28 February, participants will be offered insights from industry leaders on how to remain flexible in tough times and collectively grow the intra-Africa MICE industry.
Since its first session in 2018, the Masterclass has attracted more than 700 industry professionals, practitioners, youth, SMMEs and national tourism officials, from across the continent.
Organisers say sessions across all three days at Meetings Africa 2022, will offer speakers focusing on creating a positive African narrative, the future of meetings, and the challenges business events face because of a lack of airlift in Africa.
Other highlights of Meetings Africa 2022 include the Sustainability Village, presenting some of the best crafters in South Africa.
To be able to host a safe event, Meetings Africa 2022 is implementing Covid-19 measures as per the government’s regulations. This means:
- The wearing of face masks, hand sanitising and social distancing, will apply.
- No more than 1,000 people will be allowed into the Sandton Convention Centre.
- A QR Code which includes a Health Check questionnaire, can be completed 24 hours pre-show this will be sent to all attendees.
- Screening stations will be located in each access area leading into the venue, which includes the main entrance, sky bridge and parking area.
- All attendees must complete the Health Check questionnaire, and include a valid PCR test result or vaccine certificates or undergo a PCR test at the checkpoints.