Hanekom slams xenophobic violence as Meetings Africa kicks off

2017-02-28 16:32 - Selene Brophy
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Cape Town - Bleisure tourism in South Africa has vast economic potential, especially from across the African continent, however the recent xenophobic violence does little to grow this sector.

This was the sentiment from Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom at the opening of the 2017 Meetings Africa conference and  exhibitions event in Durban on Tuesday.

Hanekom says SA is committed to working with “sister countries to capture a greater share of international conferences and events”, and further condemned the recent acts of xenophobic violence that occurred in Tshwane and Johannesburg.

Xenophobia cannot be tolerated

Hanekom stated that "xenophobia, wherever and whenever it occurs, cannot be tolerated. This despicable behaviour does not represent the sentiments of the vast majority of our people, who appreciate that the people of Africa are bound together by common origins and common values of humanity.  Tourism plays a big part in eradicating prejudice and bringing people together. We will always welcome people from all over the world in our country.”   

Taking place from 28 February to 1 March 2017 Meetings Africa is aimed at the business tourism sector that has generates $600 billion and sustains an estimated 62 million jobs worldwide annually. 

In KZN alone this sector generates an estimated R3 billion a year and sustains almost 24 000 jobs. 

Business travellers spend three times more than leisure travellers

According to the National Department of Tourism, business travellers spend almost three times more than leisure travellers, and almost 6% of them will return to that destination as leisure tourists - which bodes well for South Africa, currently ranked as the 38th most important destination for associations by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). Durban is ranked the number two city in Africa in terms of delegate numbers, having attracted an estimated 13 000 international and regional delegates a year.

Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, Chief Executive Officer, Ndabo Khoza says, “Meetings Africa is a critical platform to engage with key partners in the tourism business sector.”

Khoza says an the event would also leverage emerging tourism business events service providers who are currently in the Tourism KwaZulu-Natal incubation programme, “giving an opportunity to promote their businesses as well as create business linkages with key industry players that attend exhibitions of this magnitude.”

Key African countries being shown SA's best

Buyers from Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana and Congo are being hosted for educational tours until 25 February 2017.

A second group of 16 international buyers from Singapore, Ethiopia, China, France, Thailand, Austria, Russia and the United States of America, will sample some of the iconic sites of interest, such as where Nelson Mandela was captured and where he cast his first vote in South Africa’s first democratic elections and the home of Mahatma Gandhi.

“When delegates attend conferences and meetings out of the country, they are always looking for unique experiences to explore beyond the conference. Therefore, hosting such tours for buyers goes a long way towards giving key players in the business tourism sector a first-hand experience of what the province can offer to their delegates when they attend meetings and conferences in KZN”, says Khoza.

The pieces of SA’s business tourism pie as outlined by National Department of Tourism:

-  Destinations such as Pilanesberg, Hermanus, Kruger National Park, Namaqualand, Sun City, Soweto, the Drakensberg and Port Elizabeth are starting to feature strongly on the leisure itineraries of delegates attending business events.

-The United States is South Africa’s largest source market for business events delegates, making up 12.5% of the total in 2015. The United Kingdom, Turkey, Nigeria, India and Australia also feature strongly in hosting business events here.

-  Of all the business delegates coming to South Africa, about one-third travel around the country to experience some of our many attractions. This trend boosts our leisure tourism industry.

- Most business delegates - about 40% - are aged between 35 and 44 years. The likelihood of a return visit with family and friends is very high.


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