Meetings Africa 2024 set to boost the business events sector, says Tourism Minister

Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille at the media launch of Meetings Africa 2024 in Sandton. Picture: Supplied

Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille at the media launch of Meetings Africa 2024 in Sandton. Picture: Supplied

Published Jan 26, 2024


Delegates, exhibitors, buyers and key global business events sector decision-makers will once again converge for South African Tourism’s Meetings Africa 2024 trade show at the Sandton Convention Centre from February 26 - 28.

According to South Africa’s Tourism Minister, Patricia De Lille, the event is set to inject a surge of energy into the business events sector on the African continent while significantly boosting South Africa’s economy.

Meetings Africa attracts thousands of attendees including exhibitors, buyers and key global business events sector decision-makers hoping to promote and exhibit their businesses and services on the sought-after platform and, this year’s show, is expected to propel the tourism sector’s growth forward, capitalising on its robust recovery momentum.

Commenting on the event, De Lille said that building from the successes recorded in previous years, Meetings Africa 2024 will no doubt enhance the already upward trajectory of their business events and tourism sector’s performance.

“At this year’s event, we anticipate the attendance and participation of more than 350 exhibitors, 350 local and international buyers, over 20 international media and more than 3 000 delegates”, she said.

Emphasising Meetings Africa as a Pan-African trade show, De Lille also highlighted its critical role in telling the African story and promoting the continent as a premier destination for business events and tourism.

“Meetings Africa offers a perfect platform to tell the African story. This is an essential platform for us as Africans to collaborate and present the continent’s compelling narrative to global buyers and audiences.

“Themed, ‘Africa’s success built on quality connections’, the event serves as a rallying call for us to champion the African continent as a coveted destination for business events. We must leverage this platform to narrate our compelling story as Africans,” said De Lille.

According to SAT, last year’s edition of Meetings Africa contributed a R388,5 million to the South African economy, creating and sustaining 753 jobs while also generating significant business deals worth millions of rands for exhibitors.

SAT also revealed that no fewer than 19 African countries are expected to participate in this year’s show as exhibitors would look to showcase their various destinations and products to the strong contingent of international buyers drawn from 52 countries.

The minister also emphasised that the economic advantages stemming from hosting the event will extend beyond the host province, Gauteng, and will be felt even in some of the small towns and villages outside the host province.

In pursuit of this goal, pre and post-tours have been meticulously organised for media and buyers. These tours showcase lesser-visited destinations in small towns and villages within Gauteng and other provinces.

Fostering inclusivity within the sector remains a paramount objective for Meetings Africa. Consequently, a robust emphasis will be placed on enhancing market access for SMMEs, coupled with dedicated efforts in skills development and capacity-building initiatives.

De Lille also underscored the significance of collaboration among African nations to harness opportunities from the fast-growing business events industry.

Additionally, the minister highlighted the tourism sector’s potential as an engine for growth and socio-economic development on the continent, emphasising its capacity for job creation.

SAT also revealed that between April 1, 2023, to date, the South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB), in conjunction with South Africa’s business event industry, has sourced and submitted 63 bids to host international meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions in South Africa between 2024 and 2029.

It said that these 63 bids have a combined estimated economic value of R1 205 248 000 and the potential to attract 46 470 international and regional delegates to South Africa during the same period.

“Of these, South Africa has been successful in securing 16 bids (meetings, incentives, and conferences) for the 2023/24 financial year, which is excellent news for the economy. These successful bids will bring in a total of R71 million between 2024 and 2025, as well as attract 2 505 international and regional delegates.

“The SANCB invested R5,7 million for these bid submissions through its bid support programme to attract business events that align with the National Government’s development priorities,” said SAT.

It also said that the conferences would also help to spread business events across the region, and they will take place in various locations, including Johannesburg, Tshwane, Ekurhuleni, Cape Town, Sun City, Parys, Skukuza and Potchefstroom.