For over two weeks now #MeetingsAfrica18; Africa biggest Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibition (MICE) event has been on the radars of global business and travel conversations as it hosted over 5000 global delegates and media at the Sandton Covention center from February 23rd to March 3rd 2018 with pre and post tours across South Africa for its 13th edition, but most importantly is the market demand and awakening that the event triggered which would last longer, challenge African destinations to pull out their paddles and charge up the opportunities it presented towards creating and growing new developmental pathways.
Meetings Africa serves as a primary platform for Africa’s business events professionals, to showcase their diverse services and product offerings to global buyers and create partnership opportunities with African associations to help transform and contribute towards the continent’s economic growth. The South Africa National Convention Bureau this year had chosen the theme “shared economies” to accentuate its scaled up knowledge accumulated over a decade of research, hosting and importantly the sector’s contribution to local economy with the intent of propelling others towards getting a slice of the business travel pie.
According to the outgoing South African Tourism Minister Ms Toko Xasa “The business tourism market generates 252,000 direct and indirect jobs per annum and contributes R115b to the South African economy and it is no surprise that the new South African president, his Excellency, Cyril Ramaphosa has mandated the tourism sector to double its efforts by creating an additional 700,000 jobs.”
Beyond creating a networking environment to trade, #meetingsAfrica18 provided an interactive atmosphere for discussions about the continent’s future and readiness to host the millions of activities transacted on its soil, the benefits as well as challenges that comes with such. The business talk sessions had topics ranging from the legacy of business around big events, business event infrastructure development to primary data sharing concerns and off course Cape Town’s learning slate and her desire for more visitors as it leads other global cities on handling natural changes like shortage of water.
The world, not just Africa is currently experiencing challenges and working tirelessly towards attaining reliable and Sustainable Developments—which tourism has a capacity to make happen in no time—especially in the area of green and shared economy—the duo which the continent of Africa has more than enough answers to provide for. On attaining green economy objectives, African continent can be relied upon; and also on shared-economy, it has always been the way of Africans’ lifestyle.
More so, tourism also plays a key role in human development, poverty alleviation, and peaceful co-existence. Tourism can bring-about new ways of running businesses and also bridge the gaps between the manufacturer and retailers, service providers and marketers, product developers and distributors. It helps in bringing and attracting more people to the land of Africa through business events, conferencing, and seminars of all kinds.
The Business events side is important when it comes to tourism. We have between 2 million people coming into South Africa for conferences. –Sisa Ntshona, CEO South Africa Tourism
Although there are many challenges that tourism may pose such as balancing—balancing between economic prosperity and the country security; underdeveloped tourism infrastructure; lack of technological access; inadequacy of Air travel between cities within Africa; lack of comprehensive marketing strategy to promote our ‘products’ etc. however, this is also another great opportunity for the growth of tourism industry—both for government and private investors in Africa, if the right approach could be employed. And as touching the balancing of economic gain and country security, since most of the on-going activities within a country or region is largely determined by the policies that the governments put in place, then the government should take the advantage of their positions and influence and put in place the frameworks, agencies, workable-structures, policy and planning procedures to take advantage of the benefit of tourism for their communities; a skill set the South African is constantly improving and calling on her sister nations to join in on the conversation.
Despite the perpetual and unknown outcome from terrorist attacks, political instability, health challenges, and natural disasters, tourism continues to flourish among other industries; and also according to World Travel and Tourism council’s report of 2017, “the Travel and Tourism’s direct contribution to GDP grew by 3.1% in 2016, and it was also forecasted to grow at an average of 3.9% per year over the next ten years.” With its innate-ability to make strong contributions to; job creation, investment opportunity, visitor exports, with visitor export making contribution to economy growth—through local production patronage and exposure to international community, and development of new technologies to aid local productions and manufacturer; tourism continues to reassure us that it is a very good idea for any country genuinely interested in boosting their economy as well as their infrastructures.
By collaborating with like-minded individuals and enterprises, we as Africans can conjure great innovations, bring about economies of scale and transform people’s lives, positively and sustainably.