Boosting South Africa’s global competitiveness: it’s working!

Quarterly message on the industry from SANCB executive manager, Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo

AS we enter the second half of 2013, we have never been busier at the South African National Convention Bureau, working hard with our numerous partners in the industry to grow our global reputation and make South Africa keenly, and successfully, competitive as a global business events destination.

In May, our National Tourism Minister, Marthinus van Schalkwyk lead a South African delegation of 26 exhibitors to IMEX in Frankfurt, Germany. And as June drew to a close, the SANCB is hard at work in preparation for the 2013 annual Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI) congress to take place in Port Elizabeth.

The South African delegation to IMEX included SANCB representatives; ten destination management companies; South Africa’s three main convention centres; six convention bureaus, five hotels/hotel chains, and a luxury train company. Minister Van Schalkwyk joined politicians from 28 countries at the IMEX Politicians Forum – a platform for leaders of the global meetings, incentive travel and events industries to meet with government ministers and policy makers.

There were 21 per cent more appointments between global buyers and exhibitors at IMEX this year: 64 000 appointments in total. It was an excellent platform for lead generation, and IMEX 2013 will certainly play its part in helping us reach our 5.3 per cent growth target over the next seven years.

At IMEX, the Minister highlighted the importance of the South African business events sector, saying it was important for our nation to achieve broad recognition of the business events industry as a major driver of job creation, skills development and transformation of the knowledge and creative economies.

It was a vitally important message, and one that leaves the SANCB perfectly poised for the unveiling of its new campaign and strategy to the Business Events industry at SAACI 2013. This is an exciting and momentous occasion not only for the SANCB, but also for the entire industry as SANCB shares its ambition with its peers in the industry in a determined strategic move to tell the global market about our capability, accessibility and value for money as a Business Events destination.

There’s much to celebrate. The SANCB together with the provincial and city Convention Bureaus has submitted 46 bids for this financial year. The value of these 46 submissions is more than R 1.04 billion. They collectively have the potential of attracting more than 76 500 delegates to South Africa.

We increased the number of qualifying association conferences we hosted in 2012 by 15 per cent to 96, up from 86 in 2011. South Africa remains the top destination for association meetings on the continent, with five of our cities ranked among the continent’s top ten business events destinations according to the International Congress and Convention Association’s 2012 global ranking.

The SANCB will be the first convention bureau in the world to roll out a provincial customer relationship management system. The implementation of Simpleview, the world’s leading customer relationship management system will ensure cost-effective bidding among South Africa’s convention bureaus. Simpleview will improve our effectiveness. It will bring better coordination in securing future business for South Africa. And it will work to avoid costly bid-offs. These benefits are powerful enough on their own. However, when combined, they give South Africa’s global competitiveness a strong shot in the arm.

We are in the final stages of putting together our subvention policy that will open up the discussion around the possible establishment of a Subvention Fund. This fund will be put to work to help business event organisers plan and organise successful meetings and conferences in South Africa. Already our global competitiveness is greatly boosted through the development of sound bidding policies agreed by the convention bureaus.

The business events industry of South Africa is truly a team that is winning gold! The spirit of partnership it brings to growing South Africa’s share of the business event market is remarkable. We succeed when we work together as one team; when we bear the enormous potential of this destination in mind; and when we put our collective energies and intelligence to work for the advancement of our industry and our nation.