Thu, 02 Apr 2020

The 15th Meetings Africa took place in Sandton, Johannesburg, recently and was the largest to date.

According to Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, Meetings Africa was created in response to the growing global recognition of Africa "as a sought-after premier business events destination".

This year, there are 321 exhibitors from 20 African countries and 313 buyers from across the globe, which have come to explore and buy what Africa has to offer.

In her opening address at the event, she said the SA government was committed to growing the country's business events industry and continued to pledge its financial support.

"This support enables us to bid more aggressively for international association conferences, meetings, incentives and exhibitions. This means that our national convention bureau and our provincial and city convention bureaus, can provide intensive support across the bidding process," Kubayi-Ngubane said.

In her view, over the years, the platform Meetings Africa provided assisted in creating and cementing partnerships and collaborations - both on the continent as well as globally. She said that, according to the World Bank, there were vast opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa.

"Touted as the next frontier for economic growth and development, Africa will have to harness the growth potential of the tourism sector to make this prediction a reality. This sector can help the continent continue its inevitable march towards sustainable growth," she said.

In her view, collaboration, rather than competition, was crucial to assist all African countries to realise their potential. For this reason, Meetings Africa showcases Africa's diverse offering of services and products, in which African associations and African meetings industry professionals can partner for transformation.

READ | Minister concerned as safety, security issues take toll on tourism stats

"Tourism is a crucial sector and high on the list of our government's priorities. As a country, we already have a vibrant tourism industry and both leisure tourism and the business events industry hold massive potential to play an even more meaningful role in the economic transformation of our country and the upliftment of our people and the rest of the continent," she said.

"In particular, we have place great focus on upskilling small tourism enterprises that create jobs, offer authentic experiences and empower communities."

Earlier this year Kubayi-Ngubane told Fin24 she was optimistic about the ability of the South African tourism industry to meet President Cyril Ramaphosa's challenge to double international tourist arrivals from 10.5 million to 21 million by 2030.

India, for example, was identified as one of the countries that could stimulate South Africa's tourism arrivals - both business and leisure tourism.

Towards the end of last year, she told Fin24 that addressing safety and security concerns impacting the tourism industry remained one of the issues she focused on.

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