Tourism Update attended the media launch of Meetings Africa 2019 at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on Tuesday (January 29), which highlighted the growing importance that Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events (MICE) hold for the tourism sector.
Sisa Ntshona, CEO of South African Tourism, said the MICE sector was a major industry for the country. “South African Tourism is really pulling up our socks to make sure we get more market share from this space,” said Ntshona, who mentioned that the MICE sector pulled in $800 million per annum.
Touching on the relevance of Meetings Africa 2019, he said it provided a platform to showcase the capabilities South Africa had when it came to MICE. “We have the ability, the technology, and for us it is about embracing that...it is about bringing tourism,” he added.
Business events can further stimulate tourism, as they have a direct knock-on effect; hence the term ‘bleisure’ (business and leisure) was mentioned by Ntshona. He noted that people who travelled for business reasons – embarking on flights to long-haul destinations such as SA for conferences – might as well stay for an additional five days and enjoy the beauty of the country, therefore contributing significantly to tourism. “These two dovetail with each other, and this is how tourism, more and more, is starting to play a role,” he added.
The sentiment was shared by Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, Chief Convention Bureau Officer of South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB), as she said the business events industry contributed to the tourism industry of the African continent.
She said business events did not just benefit the tourism industry but also touched so many other industries and stimulated job creation.
Lindelwa Isabelle, Marketing Head at Tsogo Sun, said events such as Meetings Africa provided an engaging platform for the trade, and the people who attended became ambassadors for the country as they sold South Africa as a destination. In addition, business events such as Meetings Africa stimulate the economy at large, benefiting a number of hotels, shopping malls and destinations.
Kotze-Nhlapo explained that business events also contributed to brand building for South Africa as a destination, as the country, through MICE, could attract the world’s industry, its thought leaders, whilst showcasing products, innovation and expertise, and generating media attention, which in turn showcased South Africa as a place to do business and provided the country with a world stage.
“Exhibitions help with brand building, positioning South Africa as a destination, not only for business but for tourism,” said Isabelle, as there is growth beyond people just putting up their stands in an allocated venue.
Kotze-Nhlapo added that business events further showcased various sectors, as well as Africa’s products to a world audience and thus enabled economic development. However they also bring people to South Africa, and attendees come with disposable income as companies often pay for them to attend, therefore they spend time outside of the exhibition floor, exploring the country and hopefully enjoy it so much that they come back with family or friends.
Join Kotze-Nhlapo on Wednesday, January 30, from 11h00 to 11h45, for a live streaming webinar where she will discuss the ins and outs of Meetings Africa 2019. Register here free.