The CEO of SA Tourism, Mr Thulani Nzima addressed delegates at the opening ceremony of the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI) Conference 2013 on Monday 29 July at the Boardwalk Convention Centre, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.
Below is a transcript of the Mr Nzima’s speech:
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a pleasure to be with you here today.
Without a doubt we have this event to thank for providing the basis for us, as the business events industry, to come together and, as the theme of this conference so aptly sums up, Create, Debate and Innovate.
Why do we believe in growing this industry, debating our issues and creating innovative solutions? The reason is clear – the resulting business, trade and intellectual engagement will strengthen South Africa’s global brand and economic transformation.
Growing the industry’s capacity, skills and professionalism nationally will contribute to South Africa as a preferred Business Events destination.
Coming together also gives us the opportunity to DEBATE the key challenges facing the industry and to collectively decide what the best way is for us as an industry to grow the sector.
The National Convention Bureau has been set up with a mandate to sell and market South Africa as a business events destination but it has not been set up to dictate to the industry. It is only as strong as the input it receives from every one of you in this room because, you, more than anyone; know what is needed to drive this industry forward.
The vision we all agreed on as Team South Africa is to entrench South Africa’s position as a world-leading business events destination and be globally recognised for business events innovation.
Our new campaign and strategy, Rise with Us, which we introduced to you all last night, is no doubt going to have a massive impact on the way we interact with the rest of the world and the way the world responds to us in the future.
Thanks to the work of the National Convention Bureau and the commitment of everyone here. 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 (CB) 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.
Last night we also introduced to you members of our NCB Marketing Sub-Committee whose role will be 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.
This is because Meetings Africa is not a NCB’s show; it is not South African Tourism’s show, or the Department of Tourism’s show. It is South Africa’s show and Africa’s show – our platform to show the world everything this incredible country and continent have to offer.
As developed markets become saturated the world’s attention is clearly shifting to this continent, which is showing obvious signs of an ever growing middle class and therefore ever expanding opportunity for businesses across the tourism value chain.
African arrivals accounted for 6.6 million of our international tourist arrivals in 2012.
Of the R76.4 billion that tourism contributed to South Africa’s GDP last year, R47.6 billion was from our African markets.
But this focus on Africa is not new for us. South Africa’s commitment to success across the region and across the continent is established and on the record.
At Meetings Africa this year we gathered with our intentions clear: Advancing Africa Together, and as we prepare for Meetings Africa 2014 we are driven by this same principle.
Meetings Africa 2014 will be on 24th – 26th February, Sandton Convention Centre.
We are not now focusing on Africa because its “fashionable”, we are focusing on the continent because it’s fundamental to who we are and where we are going.
I wish you all a very productive couple of days as together we continue to CREATE, to DEBATE and to INNOVATE. In doing so we can fully realise South Africa’s potential as a business events destination.
I would now like to welcome the Honourable Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk on stage to give the keynote address. (Read the Ministers’ speech here).