The success of the 2010 FIFA World Cup was a great achievement for South Africa, showing that the country had the capacity, infrastructure, variety of tourism offerings and a nation of welcoming people, to stage any major international event, big or small,” Roshene Singh, Chief Marketing Officer at South African Tourism (SAT), told CMW, adding that it was now up to the business tourism industry to leverage the new recognition that South Africa enjoys as a major international meetings destination.
“Ranked as the leading business tourism destination in Africa (ICCA 2010), South Africa’s USPs, according to Singh, include “unique combination of incentive offerings, spectacular landscapes, wildlife and cosmopolitan cities”. SAT statistics show the next five years will see the country host more than 200 corporate meetings and association congresses and bring over 300,000 delegates into the country.
“Our success in attracting events like the UN Climate Change Conference (COP17/CMP7) and
the 123rd International Olympic Committee Session in 2011, demonstrate our ability to host international events of any size and stature,” said Singh.
Hosting the World Cup put South Africa in the event big league. The country recorded the highest levels of satisfaction from FIFA (nine out of 10).
The legacy includes increased accommodation options as well as new and renovated airports. The continent’s first rapid rail link network, the Gautrain, now transports 50,000 passengers a week.
This year’s creation of a new national convention bureau is the latest evidence of renewed efforts to maximise the event legacy. It also brings into focus the kinds of challenges involved with moving to the next stage. Some industry professionals say the authorities still have to demonstrate the bureau has proper funding and a consistent management strategy.
Economic recession and the ongoing challenge of securing subvention funding for international conferences are also issues exercising the South African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI). These, and the issue of more inbound flight capacity, were debated at the SAACI 18th National Conference in the summer where Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, Minister of Tourism, pledged R700m (US$95m) of the national tourism budget to be spent on marketing the country.
He also stated the number of airlines flying to South Africa had doubled over the past five years.
Nina Freysen-Pretorius, SAACI National Chairperson, called for a dedicated team to be set up at South African Airways (SAA) to work on business tourism.
She claimed there were still visa issues for certain visitors and said that while South Africa had “identified” the problem, other countries were providing visa exemptions to conferences delegates.
These are all items, organisers hope, will be addressed by the new National Tourism Sector Strategy.
Van Schalkwyk told the SAACI conference the national convention bureau should ensure a more coordinated approach: “We need to synchronise efforts to ensure that South Africa wins”.
Mati Nyazema, Executive Director of Sandton Convention Centre, has said a national umbrella bureau would open up opportunities to the provinces outside the three strong meeting cities of Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.
Calvyn Gilfellan, CEO of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, of which the Cape Town and Western Cape Convention Bureau is a strategic unit, believes the new national bureau must support the existing regional CVBs’ programmes, “adding value to their efforts to market themselves as business tourism destinations”.
The Government’s aim, meanwhile, is to increase foreign tourist arrivals to South Africa from seven million in 2009 to 15 million by 2020. and is hoping tourism’s total contribution to the economy will rise from R189bn in 2009 to R499bn by 2020, creating 225,000 jobs in the process.
If the ambitious figures are to be achieved then the new hotel stock will be crucial. While pre-World Cup the complaint was more often lack of quality hotel space, now hoteliers bemoan over supply. CEO of Protea Hotels, Arthur Gills, says a post-World Cup hangover has left Cape Town hotels “bleeding”, with occupancy rates as low as 10 per cent and room prices “dropping through the floor”. That said, there could be bargains for event organisers, with three-star hotel rooms available for R240 a night.
Cape Town, as well as being the country’s top tourism hotspot, offers a variety of conference venues including the Vineyard in Newlands. It’s next to the cricket ground and overlooked by Table Mountain.
Major events booked into the city include the International Congress of Psychology in July 2012 (6,000 delegates); and the 17th IUPHAR World Congress of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology, July 2014 (10,000).
Both events will be hosted at Cape Town ICC. This venue recently hosted the inaugural Sports and Events Tourism Exchange (SETE), an event designed specifically to build on the 2010 FIFA World CupTM legacy. SAT’s Global Manager of Events, Sugen Pillay, has said SETE was a showcase for a new generation with the skills, infrastructure and knowledge to attract a wide range of sports events to the country. A SETE steering committee will now drive the country’s sports events strategy. There is a clear desire not to let the World Cup impetus peter out. Chief Director of South Africa’s Department of Sport and Recreation, Professor Paul Singh, has said the investment made by the government for the World Cup needs to be sustained for the next 20 years, with smaller-scale sports events also significant, “given that they require little additional infrastructure investment and offer a greater net benefit to local communities,” he said.
Cape Town markets also as part of the BestCities Alliance, the world’s only alliance of certified convention bureaus, which includes Dubai, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, San Juan, Melbourne, Singapore and Vancouver.
In addition to Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg is home to many chain hotels and also the business and financial capital. It houses three-quarters of the country’s corporate headquarters.
Johannesburg has good international flight connections and a bidding partnership with the Johannesburg Tourism Company (JTC), Gauteng Tourism Authority and Sandton. “The synergies allow for bidding profiling, quick turnaround of approvals and resources to support the bids,” said Sandton Executive Director Mati Nyazema.
Nyazema believes the World Cup mitigated the effects of the recession on South Africa and is confident Johannesburg has reached “new heights” in terms of its reputation for hosting major events. “We look forward to a busy 2012,” she said, adding the perception of the city changed as a result of the World Cup. The city and the provincial tourism entity, Gauteng Tourism Authority, have launched aggressive campaigns to ensure sustainability and focus on enhancing the offering for international delegates and getting stakeholders to offer value-for-money conferences.
As a long haul destination, it is essential for Johannesburg, and the country as a whole, to remain globally competitive.
In this respect Nyazema says the most resilient sector has been the corporate market, where “clients are still meeting regardless of the constraints of the recession”.
And the latest big event landed by Johannesburg was the bid to host One Young World (OYW) in 2013. Lindiwe Kwele, CEO of JTC said she was “thrilled”, with the news. “JTC’s conference and events team put in so much effort bidding for OWY, and we are so excited to be bringing this high profile event to Johannesburg in two years’ time,” she said.
And it is not just in Cape Town and Johannesburg where new infrastructure has given a welcome filip to business tourism marketing. Port Elizabeth will develop and open a new convention centre in 2012, while Durban’s new international airport now brings business tourists in direct.
The urgency not to rest on laurels was again sounded recently by the CEO of South Africa’s World Cup Organising Committee, Danny Jordaan. “The country,” he said, “needs to act quickly to attract events, to fully leverage off the infrastructure and experience in hosting big events.
“We cannot wait another 30 years to host a major event. By that time we would have to build new facilities.”
He added the gap could only widen if the country waits.
Southern African event suppliers will be out to demonstrate their value to the global industry at SAT’s Meetings Africa show, which returns to Sandton Convention Centre, 28 February-1 March 2012. “We are working hard to ensure Meetings Africa 2012 offers improved quality, variety and experiences to global visitors,” SAT’s Roshene Singh told CMW.
The 2011 event grew both the numbers of hosted buyers and pre-scheduled appointments, and an Association Day in 2012 promises a platform for national associations to grow membership and take advantage of global best practice. The private sector will also have the opportunity to network and do business.
Outside the meeting
South Africa is famous for its ‘Big Five’ and there are plenty of game reserves that offer pre- and post-conference tour opportunities for delegates. The Kruger National Park and the numerous private reserves offer wildlife in natural surroundings and can sometimes provide ‘boutique’ meeting facilities.
There are mountain walks and shark cage-diving, and the country has eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the Cradle of Humankind and Robben Island.
For wine tours, Stellenbosch is worth a visit in the Cape Winelands.
South Africa was voted Best Leisure Destination at China’s Travel Weekly Travel and Meetings Industry Awards and nominated in the long-haul MICE Destination category.
There are plenty of secondary destinations outside of the directly accessible centres of Johannesburg, Cape Town and now Durban, offering good value and plenty of spectacular scenery, too.
South Africa centres of conventional excellence:
Cape Town International Convention Centre
CTICC’s long awaited expansion is now expected to be completed by 2015, is part of a R4.5bn urban regeneration project to create a “convention precinct”.
City funding of R550m for the extension venture over the next three years is available, on top of R150m for the purchase of land parcels and related statutory processes.
According to CTICC Chief Executive Officer Rashid Toefy, CTICC will contribute to 8,000 jobs annually by 2018. The expansion of the convention centre will also include 10,000sqm of retail space; a hospital; an office tower, basement parking; as well as the regeneration of Founder’s Garden by the Province, which will connect the Artscape precinct with the new, larger venue.
A feasibility report by economists from the University of Cape Town predicts the centre’s contribution to national GDP will increase from R2.3 billion currently to over R5.1bn per annum.
Since opening its doors in 2003, the centre has contributed 53,000 direct and indirect jobs, as well as raising the profile of Cape Town and the Western Cape as a leading globally competitive business destination.
The Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Alderman Dan Plato, said events are a key component of Cape Town’s economic development strategy, with the CTICC is at the core of this strategy. “The CTICC is already the leading convention centre in Africa,” claimed Alderman Purchase.
The CTICC this summer hosted the inaugural Sports and Events Tourism Exchange (SETE), a major event held specifically to build on the 2010 FIFA World CupTM legacy.
Johannesburg’s Sandton Convention Centre host Meetings Africa and has 22,000sqm of event space. The International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists’ Congress and the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation are booked for 2012; the 4th World Conference on Doping in Sport in 2013 and the General Meeting of the International Mineralogical Association 2014. There are 5,000 hotel rooms nearby and SCC was a finalist for ICCA’s Best Marketing Awards 2010 (Project Diski).
Durban International Convention Centre is the country’s largest meetings venue and hosts the global environmental congress COP 17 in December 2011. The International Confederation of Midwives Conference came in June, the 5th Southern African Aids Conference in July and the World Methodist Council in August this year. International conferences make nearly half of the total business and the venue was named Africa’s leading conference centre at the World Travel Awards 2011.
East London CC
East London joined South Africa’s ICC club last in 2010. Managed by Premier Hotels & Resorts, the ELICC includes a 600-seater auditorium, 2,000sqm of exhibition space and a major hall seating up to 850 people ballroom style and 2,100 cinema-style.
The ELICC is located on the Esplanade and has views of the Indian Ocean. The centre is a 15-minute drive from East London Airport, the Industrial Development Zone and all major industries. There is an adjoining 254-room four-star and 175-room three-star property.
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