The 2019 edition of Meetings Africa – the two-day Pan-African business events trade show – closed at Johannesburg’s the Sandton Convention Centre on 27 February with record numbers of exhibitors in the show’s 14-year history.
Cllr Leah Knott, MMC for Economic Development in the City of Johannesburg had welcomed visitors to the show with the message:
“Meetings Africa has come a long way –and continues its steady growth trajectory. This year we are looking at hosting some 194 international hosted buyers, 55 associations and 55 local corporate buyers – a 10% increase on 2018 figures.”
Cllr Knott said his Department’s strategic objective is promote Johannesburg to be the number one African destination of choice for both business and leisure in an effort to:
- Improve seasonality, length of stay and tourist spend during visits to Jo’burg
- Improve the diversity of the tourism offering in Jo’burg
- Build a positive image/perception for the city among local, national and international audiences.
Johannesburg is the most visited city in Africa since 2013 (according to the Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index) and improved its ICCA Rankings (May 2018) from 186 to 113 globally.
SA Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona told delegates at the show opening: “Business events are almost seen as the non-sexy side of tourism. But business events are the anchor. This is where we acquire people visiting the country in bulk. This is where policies get made, inventions get done. And I assure you that in SA, this is an area that we want to grow.” While Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom (pictured) drove this point home by explaining the significance in relation to Meetings Africa, which he described as “Africa’s premier business events show”. “It just grows year after year, 14 years now it’s been running. Meetings Africa is really hitting an all-time high, and we’ll do even better in future years.”
Fifteen African countries joined the exhibitor and delegate line up this year. “It tells you of the recognition of the importance and the potential in hosting congresses, conferences, exhibitions, meetings and events – massive opportunity, not only for events, but also for knowledge exchange, information exchange, and working together to deal with some of the challenges we face as a continent and globally,” Hanekom added.
Meetings Africa has broken previous records in 2019, with 343 exhibitors – 37 more than last year – and 86 of whom are from African countries.