The Embassy of South Africa in Israel

South Africa – a global Business Tourism destination

South African Tourism’s objectives are to increase the volume of business tourists arriving in South Africa, encourage them to spend more and stay for longer, improve geographic spread and ease seasonality patterns.

South Africa’s popularity as a conference or incentive destination is evident in the growth of arrivals in this sector, in fact it is the fastest growing tourism sector in South Africa.  In 2008 Business Tourism represented 6% of total foreign arrivals to South Africa, this is more than half a million visitors who came to SA for meetings, incentives, conferences and events. 
Business Tourism is a particularly attractive as an economically impactful sector as the average spend per business tourist is higher than in the leisure sector and continues to increase year on year. Business tourists spen on average R5,600 (2008) when in SA, an increase of almost 40% when compared to 2007. This translated into more than R3bn to Tourism’s Total Foreign Direct spend and it was an increase of over half a billion Rand when compared to 2007.
To grow this industry South African Tourism uses various methods to promote South Africa as a premier business destination in the international market such as taking part in international trade shows, global campaigns and actively pursuing a better ICCA (?International Congress and Convention Association) rating. Currently South Africa is ranked 34th by ICCA and it aims to be a top 10 ICCA destination within the next five years.
The major growth catalyst is the annual trade show – Meetings Africa the annual B2B business tourism exhibition takes place at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg and is fast gaining traction as a significant international business tourism trade show. It is the largest annual gathering of delegates, exhibitors, journalists and tourism product buyers on the African continent and features professional educational programmes, networking functions all underpinned by an international hosted buyers programme.
Speakers at Meetings Africa in 2010  included speakers such as Dr Elling Hamso, the Managing Partner at European Event ROI Institute who addressed the ROI implications of going green and Daniel Levine the Executive Director at The Avant-Guide Institute in New York who discussed trends that affect association business.

Meetings Africa’s spotlight this year was firmly fixed on South Africa as 2010 FIFA World Cup™ host destination. The FIFA spectacular will give substance to claims South Africa has been making since the coming of democracy that the destination is big event capable; that it has superb infrastructure; that it has the capacity and the desire to host high-profile gatherings; and that it has the wherewithal both to attract and to host globally significant events and meetings.

The South African government has been working hard to provide world class infrastructure in order to enhance the destination’s position as a major competitor in the global business tourism industry.  Some of these initiatives include major upgrades to Cape Town International and OR Tambo International Airports as well as construction of a new international airport, the King Shaka International Airport north of Durban. Furthermore phase one of Gautrain, the high-speed commuter train that connects business hubs in Johannesburg, Sandton and Pretoria is nearing completion and will be up and running in good time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ to service the transport needs of the approximate 400 000 people expected to come to South Africa for the Championship.

The private sector has also invested millions of Euros in refurnishing existing hotels and building new hotels across the destination with numerous new conference facilities being built that will benefit meeting planners by giving them extended venue choice and more facility variety. Some of the new luxury hotels include the One & Only Hotel at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town that opened its doors in June 2009. The seven storey, 130 room hotel is estimated to have cost R900 million to build. In Johannesburg, the new four star Southern Sun in Hyde Park opened its doors in June 2009, the hotel cost of over EU 17 million to build and in Port Elizabeth the Rezidor Group has opened a 5 star hotel, the Radisson SAS Port Elizabeth.

South Africa’s major convention centres continue to be improved and expanded. The Durban ICC, Cape Town ICC, East London ICC as well as the Sandton Convention Centre all provide state of the art conference facilities. South Africa’s Convention Centres are carbon conscious and they each have policies and practices in place to minimise the impact they have on the environment. These include everything from sophisticated recycling procedures and practices to power and water saving systems.

A further convention centre is being built in the province of Mpumalanga. This International Convention Centre will accommodate 5,000 delegates and borders the world famous Kruger National Park.

“There’s something about the inclusiveness of African culture; the wide, open spaces of the South African landscape; the innovation and problem-solving focus that is uniquely South African; lessons from our history; and the natural rhythms and cycles of our unspoiled wilderness areas that each add real and quantifiable benefit to meetings, conferences and exhibitions. We call this Business Unusual.”

Business Unusual offers a fresh take on ‘business sense’. It offers a range of experiences that are infused with African values, the spirit of African leadership, the wisdoms of Africa’s past. It provides lessons in connectivity for the global economy. It draws on the experience of South Africa’s remarkable political history towards negotiated compromise, co-operation and victory of the collective. It impacts directly, and beneficially, on bottom line.

“South Africa is a business tourism destination that the world is sitting up and taking notice of,” says Nomasonto Ndlovu, Global Manager, Business Tourism at South African Tourism. “We have one of the fastest growing, most beautiful and accessible leisure destinations on earth. And our unique hybrid of cultures, ancient wisdom, modern infrastructure, and world class meeting facilities make us a business tourism destination that many are finding very, very difficult to resist.”