Tourism Minister Khubayi-Ngubane opens 'largest' Meetings Africa gathering
Pretoria – Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane on Tuesday welcomed delegates to the “largest” Meetings Africa convention in Johannesburg – with 100 per cent of the exhibition floor sold out, and more than 320 exhibitors from fellow African countries showcasing.
“It stands to reason that this year we are hosting the largest Meetings Africa, to date. In this regard, we have sold 100 per cent floor space, with 321 exhibitors from 20 Africa countries. A special welcome to the Democratic Republic of Congo, who are first time exhibitors at Meetings Africa,” said Kubayi-Ngubane.
“I would also like to welcome the 313 buyers from across the globe, who have come to explore and buy what Africa has to offer. Walking around earlier, I could already sense a buzz of excitement surrounding the many possibilities that Africa has to offer the international business travel industry.”
Meetings Africa is a Pan-African Business Events trade show, which has been in existence for 15 years. The show was born in response to the global meetings industry’s growing recognition of Africa as a sought-after premier business events destination.
Currently underway at the plush Sandton Convention Centre, Meetings Africa has brought under one roof key business tourism sector players to help African countries to collectively advance the tourism interests of the continent.
Now in its 15th year, Meetings Africa will be hosted on Tuesday and Wednesday and the gathering serves as a primary platform for Africa’s business events professionals to showcase their diverse services and product offerings to global buyers. The aim is to encourage and stimulate the rotation of meetings on the African continent.
Kubayi-Ngubane said African countries are at varying degrees of development, and the majority of them now form part of the virtuous growth cycle. She said therefore, collaboration, rather than competition, is crucial to assist all African countries to realize their potential.
“For this reason, Meetings Africa showcases Africa’s diverse offering of services and products, in which African associations and African meetings industry professionals can partner to help transform our continent’s fortune. Tourism is a crucial sector, and high on the list of our government’s priorities,” she said.
“As a country, we already have a vibrant tourism industry and both leisure tourism and business events industry hold massive potential to play an even more meaningful role in the economic transformation of our country and the upliftment of our people and the rest of the continent.”
The minister said she was pleased because this year the gathering is joined by 20 SMMEs on the trade floor.
“Please be sure to visit them at the development zone so you can see the vast variety of business events offerings that South Africa offers,” she urged.
Kubayi-Ngubane asserted that the time for Africa to show its immense value to the rest of the world as a business events destination is now.
“To all buyers from across the world, we can assure you that you have come to the right place. Africa is a capable, globally competitive business events destination and with warm people coupled with authentic and unique experiences, and any event you host here is set to be a memorable one,” she said.
“To all exhibitors, thank you once again for exhibiting at Meetings Africa, thank you for believing in this platform and for putting your best foot forward and presenting compelling tourism products and services to the world. To members of the media, thank you for your continued support in sharing the African story and helping showcase Meetings Africa as the premium business events platform that it is.”
She hoped that this year’s edition of the Meetings Africa trade show “will be a fruitful experience for exhibitors, buyers, media and visitors alike, with ample networking opportunities and robust exchanges of ideas”.
The business events sector is crucial to tourism and South Africa’s economy, as well as that of the continent. As a premier business event, Meetings Africa has emerged as one the cornerstone events in South Africa’s MICE (Meetings, Incentive, Conferences and Exhibition) sector, commonly known as the meetings industry that attracts people who are travelling into the country for business, conferences and exhibitions.
According to the department of tourism, the vibrant industry directly and indirectly sustains more than 250 000 jobs and contributes an estimated R115 billion to South Africa’s economy, “underlining an incontestable fact, that business tourists spend more than leisure tourists”.