South African Tourism will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of Meetings Africa, an event that showcases the continent’s business events offering. The celebrations coincide with South Africa’s 20th year of democracy, commemorated by the South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB) at EIBTM 2014.
Dubbed Africa’s biggest business event trade show, Meetings Africa has been hosted at Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg since its beginning in 2005, with last year’s show attracting 169 international buyers, 31 African association buyers and 238 corporate buyers.
“Last year South Africa hosted 118 meetings that met the ICCA’s criteria (up from 97 in 2012) marking a significant 18 per cent improvement in this regard. The 118 meetings brought over 94 000 association professionals to South Africa and contributed an estimated R1,5 billion to our economy (US$136m),” cited Thuland Nzima, Chief Executive Officer at South African Tourism.
Having successfully hosted mega sporting events such as the 2010 Fifa World Cup as well as the World Summit on Sustainable Development, South Africa’s standing in the business events industry has grown in recent years, placing 34th on the global ICCA league. “Our advance up the rankings has been steady and sustainable and it’s this industry’s ambition to see South Africa occupy a place in the top 20 ICCA destinations by 2017,” adds Nzima.
Meetings Africa 2015 will be held between 23 and 25 February 2015 under the theme, Advancing Africa Together. A selection of industry seminars and networking opportunities will take place on the first day, organised by the SANCB.
Meanwhile, EIBTM closed last week with an 8% increase in attendance on 2013. Over 80% of delegates were from within Europe, reflecting a trend highlighted by the American Express Meetings & Events 2015 Global Forecast indicating a predicted rise in meetings held in Europe.
Trade visitor numbers increased by nearly 8% with 78,436 pre-scheduled appointments and a 20 per cent increase on self selected appointments.
Equally, association planners have predicted growth in their meetings activity for the coming year, propped by a jump in attendance from independent association planners: of 271 planners 67 per cent came from independent societies. Hosted buyers were up 12 per cent on lat year, reportedly due to a more flexible approach employed to this year’s Buyer’s programme. This came in the form of new initiative, My Association | My Club which aims to give planners greater autonomy over their networking sessions and schedule.
“I am very pleased with the new flexibility for Association Buyers this year, especially around our appointments diary. The difference is that it has given us a great opportunity and time to meet with others in the industry, share knowledge and network.” said Jeton Iseni, European Project Manager at European Huntington’s Disease Network who took part in the Association programme.