The role of business events in tourism

Glenn van Eck
Glenn van Eck

Tourism has usually focussed on accommodation, hospitality, transportation and entertainment with visitor attractions such as, theme parks, amusement parks, sports facilities, museums etc. taking the centre stage. Event organisers and event managers have realised over time that there is an area that has yet to be tapped into, and this realisation gave birth to the event tourism industry.

People have always travelled for leisure, entertainment and business purposes to attend a meeting, conference, workshop, event, etc., and these people, or tourists, have contributed to the growth of the destinations they had visited directly or indirectly, and as such have  developed the event tourism industry as a whole.

One will agree that tourism whether on a large or small scale, affects the host community. This is particularly evident during the period of the event and occasionally continues afterwards. Tourism is an economic sector that can offer a significant contribution to:

  • The economic growth of a region and to the labour market through the supply of goods and necessary services
  • Social upliftment to a region through SMME development, job creation, infrastructure improvement etc.
  • Cultural experiences.  Tourism is considered to enhance the element of community enrichment; this is attributed to the meeting of different cultures

When discussing the impact of events, emphasis is often placed on the financial aspects.  Most probably, because it accounts for the justification of the budget goals and expenditure. However, the ‘triple bottom line’ of social, economic and environmental goals/measures should not be underestimated because government policies commonly acknowledge them. For instance, social and cultural benefits play a vital part in the calculation of an event’s overall impact.

Event tourism is a sector that has the potential to develop any tourism destination and influence the   community through its socio-impact (culturally, environmentally, economically and politically).. In my mind, there has to be more co-operation among organisers, associations and interest groups involved in the hosting of events in the community so that there could be more commitment, dedication and focus towards the goals, objectives of these events and the aspirations of the people for which the events are intended. And in achieving all these, the local municipality should give all the support needed both financially and morally to these co-ordinated groups under one umbrella so that the broader impact for the  city can be established positively alongside the event.

Tourism is and will always remain a critical component for economic growth and destination reputation.

Glenn van Eck is CEO of Magnetic Storm, a full service events company operating nationally.

www.magnetic.co.za