Business Events Sector Optimistic as SAACI Congress Concludes

Event Africa Contributor 03/08/2018 Industry Events

“South Africa’s business events sector has grown extensively compared to three years ago,” said Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom at the annual congress of the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI) in Johannesburg this week.

He said the sector contributed R115 billion to the economy in 2017, while the contribution of the overall travel and tourism sector amounted to more than R412 billion.

“What is more, 84 bids have already been secured between 2018 and 2022, translating to an economic impact of R3,1 billion, more than 93 000 delegates and 404 combined conference days.”

Hanekom congratulated SAACI on continuing to play a significant role in unifying the business events industry and being a conduit for growth.

The SAACI congress, themed ‘It takes a village,’ placed a strong emphasis on industry cohesion and the association’s focus areas – collaboration, learning and growth.

SAACI Chairman Wayne Smith said despite the positive industry outlook, the tough economic climate remains a challenge and thanked SAACI members for renewing their membership.  SAACI currently has some 620 members with more than 1 300 named representatives.

He said SAACI is acutely aware of the huge challenge to bring more young people into the business events industry and that this will be a huge focus over the next twelve months.  “This is the only way in which sustained industry growth will take place.

“Meanwhile we remain committed to strengthening the business environment for our members, in which they can operate successfully and grow their own businesses.”

SAACI’s audited financial statements were approved at its Annual General Meeting held during the congress.  Smith said although recent years had been challenging, the SAACI board had budgeted for a profit in the 2018/9 financial year.

The 2018 SAACI awards were made at the congress, with Margi Biggs of Specialized Tours and Events in Cape Town receiving the Fellowship Award and Moses Gontai of Namanje Events Solutions in Soweto named Young Achiever of the Year.  The Members Choice award in the venue category went to Century City Conference Centre and Hotel and the winner in the supplier category was EPH Productions in Tshwane.  The Western Cape was awarded as the 2018 SAACI branch of the year.

The congress incorporated a sustainability plan which limited the environmental impact of the event.