The South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB) invited Tourism Tattler, as the official trade journal to SATSA, to participate in a two-day trip to showcase Nelson Mandela Bay’s business events capabilities and facilities and to attend the annual South African Association of the Conference Industry (SAACI) 2013 Congress. By Beverley Langkilde.
And what an event it turned out to be! Arriving at Sun International’s new Boardwalk Hotel, Convention Centre and Spa in Port Elizabeth, set the tone for 5-star service excellence, which is obviously why SAACI selected this venue for their 2013 annual convention and exhibition, which took place from 28 to 30 July 2013.
My observation was borne out by the SAACI National Chairperson Nina-Freysen-Pretorius during her official welcome speech to delegates when she said “Our customers – the national and international associations, corporate clients and not for profit organisations – have to adapt to the new economic environment. With international grants, funding and sponsorship being cut to the bone, they have to be creative and more careful with their expenditure. Therefore, when looking for a conference destination and services, they are much more selective and demanding.”
Nina’s statement was underpinned by the Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk’s keynote address. “Even in world regions characterised by low or no economic growth, we can still look forward to another period of moderate expansion in meetings, events and business travel. That applies equally to volume and spends in 2013. Most indicators point to at least a modest increase in demand and prices in 2013, while in those world regions with fast-expanding economies, such as ours, much greater growth can be expected” he said.
South Africa is ranked number one in Africa having hosted 97 meetings, Kenya number two with 29 meetings and Morocco number three with 23 meetings respectively. From a global perspective, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) ranks South Africa as 37th in the world with 97 meetings. Africa hosted a total of 302 meetings, which equates to 2,7 percent of the 11 000 international meetings held globally in 2012. “It is only through hosting conferences that can rotate on the African continent that we can become more competitive in the ICCA ranking” said Minister van Schalkwyk.
Addressing delegates during day two of the convention, SA Tourism CEO Thulani Nzima said that the National Convention Bureau had been set up with a mandate to sell and market South Africa as a business events destination but not to dictate to the industry. “There is now a formal partnership between cities and provincial convention bureaux, provincial tourism organisations and the business events supplier community for the purpose of working collaboratively on the development of the industry.
“The Business Events Coordinating Council was formed in September 2012 and includes as members, heads of all cities and provincial convention bureaus and business events units. Its role is to ensure that we work together and not against each other when attracting events to the country so that everyone wins.”
He said the role of the NCB marketing sub-committee was to ensure an enhanced industry presence in the workings of the bureau. They will also provide a platform for industry input into the organisation and operation of Meetings Africa, which will be held from 24 to 26 February 2014 at the Sandton Convention Centre.
SAACI Green Congress
The importance of event greening has grown over the last few years and become an intergral part of the planning and implementation of events in South Africa. For the SAACI 2013 conferemce, the organisation committee appointed Stead-fast Greening to do an independant eco audit to showcase the success stories and lessons learnt. Some of the initiatives implemented at the congress included:
- Delegate bags made from recycled materials;
- No plastic bottled waters handed out to delegates;
- Re-useing last years banner frames and inserting new prints;
- Invoicing and correspondence sent via email;
- The programme committee held teleconferences rather than in-person meetings (members based in CPT and JNB and PE).
The choice of the Boardwalk Convention Centre as the venue, which opened up in December 2012, and has been built in line with Sun International’s sustainability principles also had an impact. All the standard practices were audited during the event, including waste management, energy efficiency, water conservation and eco procurement.