Officials and members of the
South African Association for the Conference Industry,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is an honour and a
privilege to be in the company of key players in the business events industry.
This year’s theme: "It’s business – it’s personal" really resonates
with me. I firmly believe that the best business done is business driven by
passion, conducted with personal integrity, and sincere belief in the greater
good. On the other hand, the personal experiences we provide in the tourism
sector must be backed up by a high level of professionalism and excellence.
This is particularly significant when one considers the
immediate impact and the ripple effect of the work of the conference and
meetings industry. These events bring people into our country, and when they
have a truly memorable experience, which is largely the result of experiencing
excellence and quality contact with people, they will spread the word about our
amazing offerings around the world, and many more people will want to
experience it for themselves.
And this, in its turn, contributes to our overall tourism
performance, and allows tourism to continue supporting one in every ten South
Africans in employment, and to continue contributing about 9.5 percent of the
country’s GDP in total.
Your commitment to making our
national tourism sector successful, and making our country globally successful,
is an inspiration for all of us. This is demonstrated by the pledge you took
three years ago, when we adopted South Africa’s Business Events Strategy. You
expressed your commitment to work together as an industry, and to include
government to ensure that we accomplish big milestones by working as a unit.
These milestones are about
your personal and business achievements, and about those of the entire country
as well. After all, the growth of this
industry is also about the growth of our nation.
As Thulani alluded to in his
introductory remarks, the effect of your work is far-reaching. You have been able to create businesses that
touch the lives of people in significant ways.
When the strategy was
conceptualized four years ago, you had a pretty good idea of the type of skills
needed to grow and strengthen our country. Six priority economic sectors were
identified in which the business events industry can play a meaningful
developmental role. These were: Manufacturing, Mining and Metals, Business
Process Outsourcing, Creative Industries, Life Sciences, and Information and
As an industry, you had the
foresight to understand that attracting conventions in these key sectors would
assist our country in advancing towards a more knowledge based economy.
You vowed to take the entire
industry, and our country, to new heights. For that, I salute you. Your success equates to our country’s
success, and that is what we so badly need - growth and success for our country,
and for our continent.
Meetings Africa, our hugely
successful regional business events trade show, has generated quick wins for
the business events industry on the entire continent.
and grow collaboration on the continent, the South African National Conventions
Bureau developed a dedicated corporate buyer’s programme at Meetings Africa,
and this created new opportunities for the industry. This was in keeping with
the global trend that National and Corporate Meetings events are just as
important as international business events in growing the industry.
have already secured business deals directly from participating in the
All of you here today have
affirmed the world’s confidence in South Africa as a capable business events
destination. It is because of your professionally managed international
convention centres, smaller business event facilities, and your well known
hosting capabilities, that we occupy the 32nd spot on the ICCA rankings.
We continue to hold the top
position for Africa and the Middle East. This is no small feat, considering the
fast evolving and dynamic global environment that we operate in.
Ladies and gentlemen, I do not
want to downplay the many challenges you face in securing association events
for our country.
It is imperative that the
industry works together with key decision makers in government to identify and
try to overcome the barriers that impact on hosting events in our country
Factors such as the safety of delegates, affordability of
our offerings, air access and ease of entry into our country all impact on the
success of the industry.
We are all aware that the recently introduced visa
regulations have had an impact on tourism. You will also be aware that Cabinet
has decided to establish a team of Ministers to consider and review the
unintended consequences of these regulations.
While this process is underway, we should all reaffirm our
commitment to work together, and make the best of the growth opportunities
emerging around us.
The international association
industry is a very competitive market, and it is driven by membership growth
opportunities. Many of these rotating conferences have never been to the
African continent, and Africa offers them a growth opportunity that cannot be
matched by any other continent.
The African continent hosts,
on average, about 350 of the 12,800 international association meetings held
around the world. Hosting more of these events in Africa will make the
continent more globally competitive.
South Africa’s stature as the leading host destination for international
association meetings is well established. Our ICCA rankings continue to get
better, and this is a powerful endorsement of our country’s professionalism and
South Africa is also well
represented in the international association industry. For the first time in
the 50-year history of ICCA, an African and Durbanite, Nina Freysen-Pretorius
was elected president of this prestigious organisation.
The value chain of an
international association meeting consists of many key elements, and a wide
range of stakeholders without whom it will not be possible to organise these
type of events. This ranges from professional
conference organisers, venues, convention bureaus and support services, who all
need to play their part in staging world class meetings. South Africa is
fortunate to have globally recognised service providers that allow us to stage
highly successful events.
Ladies and gentlemen, I want
to assure you that you have the full support of government, and in particular
the National Convention Bureau
This year we
introduced the Tourism Incentive Programme, which is geared towards supporting
market access opportunities for the industry at international trade shows.
Participation at these shows is already subsidised by the Conventions
Bureau as a value-added service to the industry.
Under the leadership of this
bureau, South Africa has already secured 177 international association
conferences for the country over the next five years, which will attract over
253 128 professionals. This will create 753 event days and generate an
estimated R3.5 billion in economic impact.
I remain convinced that we are
a nation of visionaries, and that our intellectual capital reaches far and
wide. But we are also a nation of doers, giving life to our aspirations with
creativity and innovation.
We have invested heavily in
the conference and business events industry – and these events continue to be
good for business and to inspire our knowledge sector. The strongest evidence
lies in the huge number of professionals in different sectors that attend
association events hosted in our country. Many of these professionals would never
have had the opportunity, or the means, to attend an international conference.
This demonstrates the wide ranging impact your initiatives have had in securing
these conferences for our country.
Ladies and gentleman, taking
on the task of hosting an international conference is an enormous
responsibility. I am confident that we have the right formula for success, and
that, with your valuable contribution, we will achieve our aspirations for the
It is a great pleasure to
declare that this Congress is now officially open.
I thank you.