SA Tourism is banking on a jump in the number of international business events and meetings held in the country in the next five years.
Already the organisation’s conventions bureau has secured 177 bids for such events between 2014-2020, which represent 753 conference days involving about 253,128 delegates with an estimated economic impact of R3.5bn.
SA Tourism chief convention bureau officer Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo said in a briefing on the organisation’s strategic plan to Parliament’s trade and industry committee on Friday that SA remained the No 1 convention destination in Africa and the Middle East. It improved its position in the International Congress and Convention Association’s rankings from 37th in 2012 to 34th in 2013 and hoped for gains last year.
She believed there was potential for growth in hosting corporate meetings, corporate incentive programmes, international conventions and trade exhibitions.
There was also scope for SA to increase its share of the global market for meetings of associations. There were 118 meetings of associations in 2013-14, which SA Tourism would like to see rise to 134 by 2020.
Tourism has been identified as a key growth sector with significant job-creation potential. MPs were told that in 2013-14 there were 9.6-million tourist arrivals in the country, and SA Tourism would like to see this rise to 13.7-million by 2020. Domestically it wants to see an increase in holiday trips from 3.1-million to 3.5-million. Chairman Zwelibanzi Mntambo said more needed to be done to encourage domestic tourism and develop a culture of travel in the country.
He also stressed the urgency of the government improving its airlift strategy. “If we are not having airlifts out of the countries where we are marketing to bring people to SA at the time, comfort and price that they want we will not be in this game competitively. It is of no use for us to go and market ourselves in China when we can’t get the tourists out of China.”
South African Airways’ decision to cut its flights to Beijing, China, because the route was not profitable did not help promote tourism to SA, Mr Mntambo said. China and India were growing tourist markets which SA could not afford to neglect, he said.
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