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South Africa flexes muscles with SAR90m bidding fund

Government has launched three-year Bidding Support Programme to compete with rivals

Pictured: Deputy Tourism Minister Elizabeth Thabethe

South Africa has launched a SAR90m (EUR5.5m) subvention fund to attract more international meetings and give the country ‘extra muscle’ when competing against other destinations.

The money will be available to associations whose meetings align with South Africa’s key industries and can show their meeting will deliver knowledge exchange and investment opportunities.

Speaking at meetings industry trade show ibtm world, in Barcelona, Elizabeth Thabethe, South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Tourism, said the country was ‘open for business [and] on an accelerated drive to increase our share of the global business events pie’.

The government has allocated R90m (EUR5.5m) for a Bidding Support Programme to  allow South Africa to bid more aggressively for international association conferences over the next three years.

“This will give South Africa extra muscle to lobby for and attract big-ticket events’, said Thabethe.

Last year South Africa hosted the International Aids Conference.

“Such high-profile events are putting South Africa on the map as an exciting and cost- effective option for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions,” said Thabethe.

“We have all the infrastructure, technical capacity, expertise and experience that’s needed, not to mention extremely welcome, service-oriented and capable people. But more needs to be done for the country’s business events sector to reach its full potential.”

The South Africa National Convention Bureau is spearheading a delegate-boosting campaign, targeting members of the association conferences that are already confirmed to take place in South Africa over the next five years.

“We have already started reaping the rewards of this fund,” Ms. Thabethe said, revealing that since April the SANCB had submitted 54 bids that could potentially contribute R1.6 billion to the economy, attract 57,660 delegates and generate more than 214 combined conference days.

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