Shaping the Next Generation of Business Events Industry Leaders at Meetings Africa 2024

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Meetings Africa

South African Tourism, through the South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB), in partnership with the Southern African Tourism Educators of South Africa (TESA), is excited to announce the much-anticipated Future Leaders Forum, a prominent element of the forthcoming business events trade show, Meetings Africa.

Tailored to engage and inspire young enthusiasts aspiring to excel in the business events sector, the Future Leaders Forum is set to shine on Business Opportunity Networking Day (BONDay), scheduled for Monday, February 26. This Pan African trade show, dedicated to Meetings, Incentives, Conventions/Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE), will grace the esteemed Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg from February 26th to 28th, 2024.

With youth empowerment being a firm focus for the entire tourism and business events industry, the Future Leaders Forum is a meticulously crafted programme with ambitious goals of inspiring and guiding students towards successful careers in the dynamic business events industry. Over the course of two days, participants will immerse themselves in a transformative experience, fostering valuable industry connections, accessing top-tier educational content, gaining insights from seasoned professionals, and engaging in collaborative learning with peers.

As a unique opportunity for universities across the country, the SANCB and TESA, invited nominations of three top performing students from each institution to compete against their counterparts. Eligible students must be enrolled in NQF level 7 and 8 qualifications in Tourism and Hospitality, encompassing B-degrees, Honours, National Diploma, Post Graduate Diploma, and Diploma students. The selection criteria includes a keen interest in the business events industry, academic excellence, and an age limit not exceeding 35 years. The finalists are James Kgabo from Tshwane North College, Hlolohelo Zwane from Tshwane North College, and Anaïs Saayman from North-West University.

James Kgabo from Tshwane North College, business events
James Kgabo from Tshwane North College. (Source: South African Tourism)
Hlolohelo Zwane from Tshwane North College
Hlolohelo Zwane from Tshwane North College. (Source: South African Tourism)
Anaïs Saayman from North-West University
Anaïs Saayman from North-West University. (Source: South African Tourism)

The exciting journey for these finalists will continue on the 26th of February, when they will present their proposals, marking what could be an exciting venture into the global meetings and events arena.

Following the 2024 edition of the Future Leaders Forum at Meetings Africa, the winner will advance to the International University Challenge. This global competition unfolds at Future Leaders Forums worldwide, providing students with a platform to showcase their creativity in event planning, represent their country, and compete against the world’s best students. The overall winner, crowned at the annual IMEX Gala Dinner in Frankfurt, is presented with the coveted MPI Foundation Student Scholarship Award.

The finalist vying for the coveted prize go to compete at the International University Challenge representing South Africa at IMEX Frankfurt in May.

“At South African Tourism, we are serious about empowering tomorrow’s leaders, and this globally recognised platform allows us to do that while ensuring that we nurture talent that will benefit our business events industry in the future. It is really about ensuring the industry’s sustainability through investment in our young people,” says Bjorn Hufkie, GM: MICE Sales Officer at SANCB.

The victor of the Future Leaders Forum – International University Challenge at Meetings Africa 2024 will be awarded a sponsored prize, including flights, accommodation, and a travel allowance to attend the global Future Leaders Forum at IMEX Frankfurt in May 2024. This partnership is in collaboration with Meeting Professional International (MPI), the world’s largest industry association for meeting and event professionals, which will fund the accommodation while the SANCB will support with flights and allowance. South Africa boasts a proud legacy in this competition, having clinched victory in the International University Challenge at IMEX Frankfurt three times since we started participating in 2013. Previous South African winners include Anzelle Vorstman (2015 – North West University), Kazzandra Grove (2017 – North West University), and Emile Coetzee (2019 – North West University).

“Through this Future Leaders Forum programme, students gain international recognition and become proud representatives of their country. In their engagement and interactions with other students from other parts of the world, they get to impart information about South Africa and inspire other people to come meet and visit South Africa. People are at the heart of our destination brand, and all the marketing work we do is led by our warm and welcoming people. The IMEX-MPI International University Challenge is not only a great and worthwhile challenge for the students, but it is also a wonderful way to showcase our brand. I wish all three finalists the best of luck, and I look forward to welcoming them to the business events industry in future meetings and gatherings, ” concludes Hufkie.

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