Sisa Ntshona, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of South African Tourism, reinforced the importance of the business events industry to the continent’s economy during the launch of Meetings Africa 2017 held in Johannesburg on 18 January.
Regarded as Africa’s premier business events trade show, Meetings Africa will take place at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg from 27 February to 1 March 2017. This year’s theme is Sustainability.
Meetings Africa gives exhibitors in the business events industry a platform to showcase their products and services to hundreds of buyers and event planners, and network with key decision-makers. The business events industry cuts across the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE) sectors.
“The theme is a critical component of the work that our industry does which of course, is way beyond tourism. While Meetings Africa has previously shown its commitment to sustainability by introducing the use of low-cost energy, eco-friendly material, recycled paper and being carbon footprint conscious, the goal this year is to expand the overall conversation and see sustainability as a business value and a means of transforming lives,” said Sisa Ntshona, Chief Executive Officer at South African Tourism.
Positioned as, Advancing Africa Together, Meetings Africa has, for the last four years, won the best green exhibition award from the Exhibition Association for Southern Africa (EXSA).
“The value of such a trade show extends beyond the business transactions. Through trade shows such as Meetings Africa, where dialogues and collaborations are key – innovation can only flourish. This is beneficial because innovation is crucial for the growth of our industry,” adds Ntshona.
Building on last year’s success, Meetings Africa will once again be attended by the best of local and international industry minds who are ready to share valuable insights on global trends with leading international speakers.
The first day of Meetings Africa (27th February), also known as BONDay (Business Opportunities Networking Day), will feature a combination of global, regional and local speakers imparting knowledge on an array of topics affecting the business events industry. BONDAY is designed to equip the industry, providing educational sessions for them to learn news trends and therefore further their business. BONDay is about creating value for exhibitors.
On Tuesday, February 28, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom will officially open the show, and in his address will set the tone for what Meetings Africa 2017 hopes to achieve. This will be followed by a panel discussion, Business Talk, where South African Tourism CEO, will be joined by global industry experts discussing the impact of business events beyond tourism.
The economic impact of the business events industry will reach even the smallest businesses in the community where for the first time this year, Meetings Africa will also showcase SMEs through the development zone.
“In South Africa alone, the business events industry continues to grow and contributes enormously to the tourism sector’s development as a generator of income, employment and investment. The South Africa National Convention Bureau has already helped secure more than 170 bids for the next five years, with a total economic impact estimated at R3 billion, ” concludes Ntshona.
With the City of Johannesburg and the Gauteng Province being key partners, Meetings Africa 2017 was launched at the Living Room in Johannesburg’s Maboneng Precinct, an entertainment and lifestyle hub that represents the ongoing regeneration of the inner city. The venue was selected to complement this year’s Meetings Africa theme of sustainability in the business events industry, underscoring how tourism can be a catalyst for progressive change that benefits local communities, spurs development and minimises environmental impacts. The United Nations has also declared 2017 as the “International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development”.
“As we look forward to once again hosting Meetings Africa in February, it’s all hands on deck, with the Convention Bureau team tackling 2017 with renewed vigour, focused on entrenching Johannesburg’s position as not only Africa most visited city, but also the continent’s premier business events destination. This past year we hosted Conference of the parties (CoP17), International Association of Professional Conference Organisers (IAPCO) Council Meeting and DEMO Africa, among others. I believe that 2017 will be a great year for business events in Johannesburg, South Africa and indeed, the entire African continent. Some of the growing business events numbers confirmed for Johannesburg in 2017 via the Convention Bureau include the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, 84th UFI Global Congress; Family Centred Early Intervention – Africa (FCEI) Conference and African Social Business and The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) 2017,” says Councillor Sharon Peetz: Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Economic Development in the City of Johannesburg.
“We are excited to once again be part of this tripartite pack that is working to position Meetings Africa as the premier business events trade show. In Gauteng we use our business positioning to mainstream leisure tourism offerings in the creation of sustainable destination. This year at Meetings Africa we will unveil our business events marketing approach under the hashtag #GautengMeanBusiness,” adds Nonnie Kubeka, Gauteng Tourism’s Head of Conventions & Events Bureau.
Last year, there was an increase of 11% in both international and regional hosted buyers at Meetings Africa, with top international buyers coming from India, the United States, China, the United Kingdom and Russia as compared to 2015. There were 274 exhibitors at Meetings Africa 2016 representing 16 countries (including South Africa).