SA’s Business Events Bidding Support Programme Showing Results


Event Africa Contributor July 29, 2019 Industry News
Business Events SAACI Bidding Support Programme

South Africa’s bidding support programme for business events is bearing fruit.

Three years ago, government approved R90 million to establish a bidding support programme to propel the business events industry. The grant enabled South Africa to bid more aggressively for international association conferences, meetings, incentives and exhibitions.

The Deputy Minister of Tourism, Fish Mahlalela said at the opening of the annual congress of the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI) in Durban yesterday (Sunday, 28 July) that during the 2018-2019 financial year, South Africa had a target of 105 submissions for business events.

In conjunction with the city and provincial convention bureaus, the South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB) submitted 108 bids, a 14.8% increase compared to the previous financial year.

The 108 submissions included 94 meetings, incentives and conferences – representing a combined estimated economic impact of R2.4 billion – and 16 exhibitions with a combined value of R135 million.

The submissions have a combined potential to generate 501 event days. To date, 29 of the bids were converted into secured events with three lost to competing destinations and 61 still awaiting outcomes. More than 55% of these bid submissions were for association conferences and 30 percent for corporate meetings and incentives, dominated by the medical and life sciences sectors.

“It is encouraging that 28% of the bids submitted in the last fiscal included smaller towns and combinations between metropolitan areas and smaller towns.”

In 2018 South Africa was ranked 39th globally in the annual rankings announced by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). The country is still ranked the number one association congress destination in Africa. Cape Town is the top convention city in the region, hosting 100 of the total 415 association meetings held on the continent in 2018.

READ MORE: SAACI is Switched on in Durban

The deputy minister echoed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s commitment in his State of the Nation address earlier this year, pledging government’s financial support to the business events industry. “We know the importance and value of the industry to our economy.”

The deputy minister said the sustained growth of South Africa’s business events industry is good news for the economy.

“While we are pleased that the sector brings in millions of Rands worth of foreign direct spend, what is crucial is that the business events industry fuels the knowledge economy in two ways.

Firstly, when South Africa hosts an international association or a global corporate event, our local professionals and industry leaders are exposed to cutting-edge research, expertise and knowledge as well as excellent networking opportunities with global leaders in the field.

Secondly, by hosting international events in areas where South Africa is a global leader, the country is given an opportunity to showcase its expertise to a high-level international audience. It provides exceptional networking opportunities which could lead to further investment and growth,” he said.

To ensure that South Africa’s business events industry has the biggest impact on the country’s knowledge economy, the South Africa National Convention Bureau is focusing its efforts on attracting events in economic sectors that have been identified by government as priority sectors for future development.

These include manufacturing, with a specific focus on areas where South Africa excels including the automotive, chemical, pharmaceutical, agri-processing, electronics and biofuels sectors.

“Hosting major events in these sectors can contribute significantly in accelerating macro-economic benefits and demonstrates that the country has the intellectual property to compete globally,” said Mahlalela.


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