In an age of increased social responsibility in the corporate sector, more and more destinations are looking to offer MICE planners tangible value-adds, and South Africa is ready with an imperative that goes beyond profit.
South African President Jacob Zuma made reference to business tourism as a major jobs driver in his state of the nation address earlier this month.
“16 tourists create one job in our country,” he said.
Industry experts have thus noted that socio-economic impacts from hosting events in South Africa must be considered at all levels.
Speaking to visiting media, South African Business Tourism global manager Nomasanto Ndlovu made the connection between winning event bids and social responsibility plain, “Our mandate is bigger than making money”.
“I’m here because I want to create jobs and make lives better.”
Throughout Meetings Africa 2011, the importance placed on sustainability and social responsibility underpinned South Africa’s offering as a unique business tourism destination.
Carpets in the Exhibition Hall of Sandton Convention Centre will be removed and laid in the homes of the underprivileged, tours to townships and community projects proved popular with visitors.
The payback is two-fold, said Ms Ndlovu.
“Africa only has 3-5 percent of the market share of association bid wins so it is crucial for us to look towards sustainability and best consumer practice.”
According to recent International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) report, in 2009, South Africa ranked 34th globally and first in Africa in terms of the number of meetings hosted.
Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said, “Tourists vote with their feet”.
“From the numbers we’ve got it’s clear that we are growing by leaps and bounds.”Europe is currently the biggest source market for business events to South Africa, although strong interest for incentive groups has come from the Asia Pacific markets.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.A