Cape Town - Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom opened the Meetings Africa conference taking place in Durban saying, “Africa is innovating."
And the latest innovation from the department of tourism when it comes to growing business tourism to South Africa includes allocating a portion of the R494million Treasury has set aside for SA tourism promotion over the next three years - towards a new tourism bidding fund.
Travel and tourism contributes an estimated 3.3% to Africa’s GDP, and supports over 9 million jobs directly, or 3% of total employment, which the World Travel and Tourism Council forecasts will be exceeded in 2017. Hanekom outlined the new initiative, expected to help South Africa capture a greater share of international conferences and events, saying it will see R290m allocated in total. R20 million has been set aside for the next financial year (2017/18) and R90 million for the following three years -all acting as a catalyst that "propels SA’s business events industry to a higher league".
“It will enable our National Convention Bureau, and our provincial and city convention bureaus, to support bidding processes, and will greatly enhance our chances of winning the rights to host business events,” says Hanekom.
However, with the 2020 Common Wealth Games hosting now in question, it stands to reason the selection of these events and conference will undoubtedly have to take place quite carefully, even if they are not at such a grand scale.
Sport24 reports Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula said on Tuesday Durban may lose out on hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games due to cost challenges. In December last year South Africa's officials said it remained "fully committed" to hosting the games despite falling short of requirements. Durban was the only city with a confirmed bid after Edmonton in Canada withdrew.
Potential quick wins identified
Hanekom states the Bidding Fund will specifically focus on business events that are aligned with the priority economic sectors that Government has identified for development. These include manufacturing, mining and metals, business process outsourcing, creative industries, life sciences and ICT, he says.
"Our research shows that delegates want to experience South Africa’s attractions before and after the events they attend here. So we want to entice them to come here earlier, stay longer and bring more people with them to experience our abundant tourism offerings. The new Bidding Fund will help us to attract these high-value business tourists, so it’s a giant step forward for our business events industry, and for tourism."
5 in 5 strategy
Hanekom says as South Africa focuses on its 5 in 5 strategy to attract five million additional domestic and international travellers to South Africa in the next five years – including business travelers - the department plans to use the overall R494m over the next three years to grow "to support more jobs and small businesses and to continue making such a meaningful contribution to SA’s economy".
The money he says will be used “wisely and effectively” to achieve “transformative growth through the SA’s already vibrant local travel industry - adding the massive potential from the business events industry".
Key pieces of SA’s business tourism pie as detailed at the Meetings Africa event
- 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.
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.
- More business events are being held outside the major centres. This is an encouraging trend, because we want to spread tourism geographically across all regions of our country, so that venues and communities in some of our lesser-known areas also benefit from 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.
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