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South Africa thinks big with launch of National Convention Bureau


South Africa is aggressively pursuing a greater share of the events market, targeting at least 30 bids, with a potential of 18,000 delegates and R162,000,000 (£13.5m) in direct economic spend in 2012/13 through its newly-established National Convention Bureau (NCB).

Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk opened the country’s major meetings trade show, Meetings Africa, in Johannesburg today, saying partnership would be key to South Africa’s business tourism growth.

South African Tourism has prepared an 18-month implementation plan for the bureau, which will officially start to operate in April 2012, including the preparation of a national bidding policy and guidelines for the selection of suitable events. Established in November and headed up by Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, the NCB will spearhead the activity, acting as a ‘one-stop shop’, providing bid support, destination expertise and on-site support.

Over the next five years South Africa has already secured more than 200 international conferences, estimated to attract 300,000 delegates and provide an economic boost of more than R1.6 billion.

Opening the show, van Schalkwyk said: “We want to, through the NCB and through the continued growth of the Meetings Africa platform, make our destination more competitive in this market. We want to grow our global market share, which will require government and the private sector to work closely together as partners to shape the future of business tourism.

“Through confidently staging major events like the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the United Nations’ COP 17 Climate Change Conference, South Africa has proven its credentials to host events of any magnitude. South Africa’s capability and infrastructure for business tourism is superb. Besides the three big national convention centres in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, our destination is home to numerous other facilities that give the world’s meetings and conference organisers the same quality, variety and choice that South Africa offers across the larger tourism sector.

“South Africa already boasts a 40 per cent return of delegates as leisure visitors (Melbourne has a 23 per cent return), with 43 per cent of all delegates bringing an accompanying person, therefore the profiling of our destination to the conference delegate is very important in the service delivery of the NCB.”

More than 200 international hosted buyers from 18 markets including the UK, USA, Australia, Kenya, Germany, China and Brazil are attending Meetings Africa, held at the Sandton Convention Centre, to meet with local suppliers to discuss further events business opportunities.

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