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February 9, 2018
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Sub-Saharan Africa: Shared Economies in the Spotlight at Meetings Africa 2018


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Meetings Africa will be a hive of activity later this month, as the travel and tourism trade plus local and international buyers and media head for Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on 27 and 28 February. It is organised by the South African National Conventions Bureau (SANCB), a unit of South African Tourism. This year’s theme is “shared economies”, referencing the importance of collaboration between destination marketing organisations, the travel trade, governments and media in boosting the economy in Africa through business tourism. The event begins on 26 February with the Business Opportunity Networking Day, or BONDay, dedicated to exhibitors.

The event is now managed by Synergy Business Events, which won the tender for this and Africa’s Travel Indaba for the next three years. Synergy Business Events is 60% owned by Tiisetso Tau of Tau Management Consulting and the remainder owned by Scan Display and Scan Display BEE Trust. South African Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona, says the new partnership is part of the marketing agency’s mandate of sustainably empowering black-owned businesses.

Katie Reynolds-Da Silva, editor of Event, attended the Cape Town exhibitors’ presentation, during which Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, chief convention bureau officer at South African Tourism, outlined what exhibitors and visitors to this year’s show can expect. Amanda says the role of the theme is, “To show how African tourism entrepreneurs continue to make strides in reaching economies of scale by leveraging each other’s resources, so that they can compete on a global scale.” She emphasises that shared economics drive intra-African trade and the co-creation of solutions.

“Let us advance Africa together,” Amanda urges participants in Meetings Africa. She says South Africa is the leader by far when it comes to business events, and as such she is keen to see itineraries be inclusive of the rest of the continent. She urges delegates to meet their friends from the rest of the continent and further relationships to offer better and bigger itineraries and plans for clients and buyers. Attracting association business is a key focus of the SANCB and she says Meetings Africa serves to build and enhance these important relationships.

Countries participating this year include:

  • Botswana
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Nigeria
  • Rwanda
  • Seychelles
  • Swaziland
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

A month prior to the event, the SANCB confirmed it will host 134 international buyers, 27 African association buyers and 29 local corporate buyers. These represent 30 countries are more buyers are being confirmed in the final weeks before the event. The countries sending the most buyers include the USA, China, India, the UK, Brazil and Ukraine.

Just some of the international association buyers include:

  • Association of China Commercial Enterprise Management
  • International Purchasing Group Association
  • World Federation of Acupuncture-Moxibustion Societies
  • Asia-Europe Trade Development Association
  • All China Environment Federation
  • China Marketing Association
  • National Association for Interpretation
  • Global Communication Association
  • World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations

A golf day on 2 February serves as an effective marketing tool in the build up to the event as will the stakeholders dinner on Sunday, 25 February. During BONDay on Monday, 26 February, delegates will have the opportunity to attend various educational sessions:

  • Association Day in conjunction with ICCA Africa
  • IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum: Top tourism students representing tertiary institutions from tourism educators in South Africa compete in the International University Challenge
  • Event Greening Forum AGM
  • Exhibitor educational talks in conjunction with SAACI
  • Business events researchers workshop
  • ICCA Africa chapter meeting
  • ICCA/AfSAE cocktail function

Meetings Africa will be officially opened by the Minister of Tourism Tokozile Xasa on Tuesday, 27 February, followed by her walkabout of the exhibition floor. SABC2’s Morning Live breakfast show will broadcast from the venue from 6am that morning. During the course of the event, a variety of business meetings, presentations and networking opportunities will take place in various meeting rooms across the Sandton Convention Centre. Also taking place on 27 and 28 February are various SITE educational sessions for SITE members plus a number of pre- and post-event tours.

Exhibitors are looking forward to meeting the myriad highly qualified hosted buyers, face-to-face meetings with key decision-makers, matchmaking sessions using the online diary system, networking with industry colleagues, launching new products and services, updating industry on existing products and participating the various networking events and educational activities. The SMME involvement is equally important and each has been chosen because they can add value and authentic experiences to the business travel industry. “If we are not getting South Africa to spread this business, tourism business is not sustainable in only the main centres. We have to go to those hidden gems and places,” urges Amanda.

Visitors will once again have the opportunity to see the best of Africa’s diverse range of travel and tourism products and services on show, meet and do business with professionals across the meetings, incentives, conferences and events industry, and in so doing transform the economies of many African countries, including South Africa.

“Meetings Africa 2018 will draw together players from the broader African continent under its strategic positioning of ‘advancing Africa together’ and aims to attract more regional and international business events to our shores. This will in turn boost tourism revenues and create more sustainable jobs for our country and our continent,” says South African Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona.


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