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OPINION: Meetings Africa reminds of need to work together

Meetings Africa reminds of need to work together

By Phindile Makwakwa

THE SUCCESS of Meetings Africa 2019 held in Gauteng this week was a good reminder that as African

countries we should be working together even closer for intra-Africa economic growth, and the business events sub-sector is one such area with massive trading opportunities. Meetings Africa is the annual business events trade show which showcases Africa’s diverse offerings of services and products, where associations and meetings industry experts join forces to uplift and transform the business events sector in the continent.

Robust engagements are being held with key members of the Africa tourism trade to ensure that

they view South Africa and its wide variety of attractions as a “must see” destination for their clients, and  this message was carried through to Meetings Africa.

The latest statistics from South African Tourism (SAT) confirm that an increasing number of tourists

are already visiting the country from across Africa – and that they represent the biggest portion of

international arrivals. The latest statistics reveal that more than 7.5 million tourists from across Africa visited the country in 2017, which represented 73.7 percent of the total arrivals into South Africa. And between January and October, 2018, arrivals from Africa increased by 2.9 percent to 6.4 million.

In 2017, almost 60 percent of the international arrivals in KZN were from the African continent, which demonstrates the importance of this growing key market. During this week alone, SAT used the Meetings Africa platform to host about 25 buyers and agents in KZN, supported by Tourism KZN (TKZN).

The SAT also hosted separately a trade delegation who came from the SADC countries (comprising 34 agents from 17 countries) to tour four provinces during this week alone.

The agents and buyers travelled the country, networking with a host of potential trade partners who will be able to provide them with a wide variety of essential services for their customers, ranging from collecting their clients at the airports to where to stay and where to go.

The drive to educate the African travel trade about what the country has to offer demonstrates the increasing importance of the continent to South Africa’s tourism market. Certainly for TKZN, Africa has become the new frontier and the marketing team is involved in an all-out push across the continent to attract thousands of additional tourists – our new gold.

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