SAACI congress 2014 – can you hear the drums?

St Lucia
St Lucia

‘To the beat of a different drum’. That is the theme of the 2014 annual congress of the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI), which will be held in St Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal from 17-19 August.

St Lucia is the only town in the world that is surrounded by a World Heritage site.  The iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa’s first World Heritage site, is the only park in the world where rhino and elephant share the same eco-system with the whale and the coelacanth.

“Different it will definitely be,” said SAACI’s national chairperson, Zelda Coetzee.  “Hats off to our local organising committee for being bold in their decision-making, across all aspects of the event.  I believe this kind of boldness is exactly what we need to make the business events industry grow as much as it should.  Times continue to be tough, and thinking out of the proverbial box is becoming the new ‘normal’.”

She said this year’s congress promises to be a particularly memorable event, not only in terms of the programme content, but also with its relaxed, informal approach.

Delegates will be addressed by top local and international speakers, including trend analyst Dion Chang, Juan José Garcia, director of sales and marketing at Barceló Congresos, one of the leading professional conference organisers in Europe, social development expert Tshifhiwa Mamaila, mind coach Dr Steve Harris and motivational speaker Mark Berger.

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom will officially open the congress.

The organising committee has also placed huge emphasis on sustainability.  Not only have they arranged a congress in a small town, but they have restored the dilapidated town hall to its former glory.  The delegate bags were made from refuse picked up in St Lucia and this project employed more than 10 women for three months.

Congress chairperson, Merryl Fairfoot, said: “No stilettos, business suits or ties are needed.  In fact, we encourage delegates to drop off their stress at the R618 turn-off to St Lucia before they arrive.”

SAACI members are encouraged to arrive on Saturday, 16 August and take a hippo and boat cruise and to participate in the forum breakaway meetings on Sunday, 17 August.  The SAACI Annual General Meeting will be held on Monday, 18 August, followed by the congress gala dinner and annual member awards.

For more information about the congress or to register visit