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Business Tourism in Africa Continues to Expand

Perceptions of Africa as a business destination have changed vastly in recent times. The ICCA 2016 rankings reveal that Africa is growing in popularity as a destination for business tourism. By Zandre Campos.

It has been perceived that doing business or hosting events in Africa can be complicated. However, there has been a recent boom in both conferences and large sporting events, which has improved business tourism significantly. While Africa is not as popular as other countries, like the UAE or the UK, they do have top-notch venues and spectacular stays for visitors. Countries throughout Africa offer a surplus of opportunities to host business conferences and tourism has become a crucial component of Africa’s economy.

The International Convention Association (ICCA) recently announced the 2016 rankings for international business meetings and many African countries were included on the list. The ICCA in Africa has about 39 member organizations in over 9 countries and over the past few years, Africa’s rankings have improved. According to the latest ICCA ranking of Africa, South Africa, Morocco and Rwanda are the highest ranked meeting, incentive, conference and event (MICE) destinations in Africa. In addition, the highest ranked cities are Cape Town, Marrakesh, and Kigali.

Business Tourism in South Africa

With magnificent sites and views, South Africa, specifically the city of Cape Town, has had great success with business tourism. Currently, Cape Town is ranked in the top 40 destinations for business tourism in the world and has gone up 15 places on that ranking in a short amount of time. There have been about 62 meetings in Cape Town relating to a variety of topics such as education, technology, and medical sciences and it is predicted to grow even more in the future.

Business Tourism in Morocco

The country of Morocco has had a significant increase of business tourism and is ranked the second highest by the ICCA. Recently, the city of Marrakesh was named one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, according to Trip Advisor because of its charming culture and welcoming hospitality. According to the ICCA ranking of 2016, there were 37 meetings in Morocco and 19 in the city of Marrakesh. With new ideas and strategies to increase tourism, Morocco hopes to increase business tourism through the promotion of the country’s culture, locations, and sustainability even more than before.

Business Tourism in Rwanda

With its current third place ranking, Rwanda has improved its ranking significantly since 2014, when it ranked 13th. With the recent addition of 5-star hotels, including the Radisson Blu and Marriott Kigali, business tourism has skyrocketed. Additionally, the English and French speaking country of Rwanda is ranked the ninth safest country globally for tourists. The capital city of Kigali was ranked third and it is the location of the first Marriot Hotel in Sub-Saharan Africa. Marriot Kigali consists of 254 rooms and 10 conference halls, contributing to the increase in space for conferences. In addition, a recent report from the World Economic Forum shows that Rwanda’s international tourist arrivals are at 987,000 and international tourism inbound receipts are at $317.8 million.

There are many other countries with distinct cultures and experiences that are also tourism-ready economies to host business conferences. Additionally, languages that are spoken in each country will help determine the best fit for businesses. Conventions headquartered in the UK will most likely go to English speaking countries in Africa including South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Rwanda. Events from France would typically go to the French speaking countries of the Republic of the Congo, the Ivory Coast and Rwanda. Those from Portugal will go to countries where Portuguese is spoken, such as Angola, Mozambique and Cape Verde.

By looking at ICCA’s recent rankings and the overall improvements of countries in Africa, it is evident that Africa is a great place to host business conferences. Africa has the potential to be one of the most popular destinations for business tourism and will continue to improve on their ranking.

About the author: Zandre Campos is chairman and CEO of ABO Capital, an international investment firm that invests in companies in the healthcare, energy, transportation, hospitality, technology and real estate sectors throughout Africa.

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