Members of the media
It is truly a privilege to be here with you today, especially in these absolutely
The past few weeks, since my
appointment to this exciting portfolio, have been a sheer whirlwind of activity. One thing has become quite obvious to me, is
that South Africa’s tourism sector is a vibrant one, thanks in no small part to
people like you, in this room, who have shown your unequivocal commitment to
making this industry grow.
As you all know by now, our
shared vision as a country is outlined in the National Development Plan. To realize this shared vision will of course
require a collective effort. Tourism is
one of the sectors in our economy that could make a very significant
contribution towards addressing many of the challenges identified in the NDP,
and events and business tourism are pivotal drivers of the continued success of
SAACI clearly demonstrates that
the collective is much more effective in shaping the future of this industry than
individual players in the value chain can ever hope to be.
If we add up the direct and
indirect impacts, tourism generated 9.5% of South Africa’s gross domestic
product in 2013 and accounts for more than 1.4 million jobs in our
country! Given that one of our single
biggest challenges is to reduce the number of jobless people in our country,
this makes the sector massively important to our country.
So how does business travel and
conferencing contribute towards this? Quite simple: it is well known that business travel exceeds
global averages for tourism spending – it represent a segment of higher end
spenders, and the meetings industry contributes greatly to breaking seasonality
patterns. Add to this the positive
publicity that it gives our country, the image boost, and the high level of
return visits, then it really is a no brainer.
The South African government
remains fully supportive of the business events industry and well recognize the
impact that it continues to have on the economy. We are thrilled about the impact of business
events on attracting foreign direct spend and investment, creating jobs and positively
shaping perceptions about our destination around the world.
South Africa as a business events
destination is fast becoming a serious contender globally - we gained three
places in the International Congress and Convention Associations’ (ICCA) global
ranking from 37th place in 2012 to 34th in 2013, and all
indications are that we are poised to continue to gain it this ranking.
Two of our cities – Durban and Cape
Town – are ranked amongst the Top 100 cities in the world for conventions. And we are the number one convention
destination in Africa and the Middle East.
The 118 ICCA ranked meetings that
we hosted last year brought over 94 000 association professionals to South
Africa and contributed an estimated R1.2 billion to the country’s economy. If we add to this the further 200 000
business event delegates visiting our shores, this sub-sector contributed some
R6 billion to our economy last year.
These are big numbers. But I always like to understand how these
numbers are disaggregated. So I asked the Conventions Bureau to provide me with
a couple of examples of our return on investment. I must say, the story line is
an impressive one. Take for example the meeting of the Global Consumer Goods
Forum to be held in June 2016: the 800 to 1 000 CEOs and senior managers from
over 400 retailers, manufacturers, and others, represent companies with combined
sales worth some EUR 2.5 trillion per year. The immediate estimated economic
impact of R11.2 million will include some 4000 room nights spread over four
conference days, and that excludes the spending by those delegates that decide
to stay longer, visit other parts of the country, or to return with their
families in a year or two. And this is
not even to speak of the potential business and investment in our country that
a conference of this kind could bring!
Forgive me if I am bombarding you
with too many facts and figures and targets, but we must not be accused of proclaiming
the importance of certain activities based on nothing more than anecdote and
gut feel. Our assertions must be backed
up by real evidence, and we need to know that our approach to the opportunities
presented is well considered and planned.
The SA National Conventions
Bureau has set a target of increasing the size of South
Africa’s business events industry by 57% by 2020. And they
seem to be well on track - 269 association
conferences and events are already confirmed between now and 2018. These events will bring no fewer than 310 000
professionals to South Africa and will contribute more than R4.2 billion to our
The Conventions Bureau, working with established
methodologies deployed by the World Bank, has quantified the benefits to be
derived from the successful implementation of our strategy. These benefits can
be measured in terms of economic impact, new employment, knowledge transfer and
transformation. Just considering the incremental tax revenues to be generated
for government: the ratio is calculated to be 1 to 16 – in other words, for
every R1 we invest from government side, we stand to gain R16 in tax revenue. I hope you are listening, Minister of
What really excites me about
business events is that it is not only businesses involved in tourism that
benefit from hosting international events. Through hosting meetings and events,
we are able to develop our intellectual capital and showcase fields and sectors
where we have innovation and excellence to present to experts from around the
world. This creates new networking and
business opportunities, and it helps to position our country to benefit from
the rapidly evolving global knowledge economy. And, of course, it advances
trade, technology transfer and foreign direct investment.
Let me turn to Africa. Our
efforts are bearing fruit not only for our own country but also for the region
and the African continent at large. Gradually,
through the work that we do, specifically with our annual trade show, Meetings
Africa, the global business events industry is recognising that Africa offers much
more than previously thought. The SA National Conventions Bureau has been
instrumental in bringing our African partners, associations and stakeholders to
the table to realise the benefits of working together. Next year the show will
celebrate its tenth anniversary – a significant and symbolic milestone.
We are succeeding in showing the
world that Africa can deliver world class business meetings and that we offer a
safe and stable environment to host conferences. We boast world-class
infrastructure and deliver on what we promise.
And finally - and no better place
to stress this than in this environmentally World Heritage Site where we are
gathered today - an important trend globally is the introduction of
requirements for the greening of events and conferencing. SAACI has played an
outstanding role in the Event Greening Forum, which is working to promote and
embrace sustainable and ethical business practices within the events industry
in South Africa. Very soon, sustainability practices will become a much more
stringent license to operate. When you consider this imperative, I would encourage
you to think beyond green building design, energy efficiency and renewables
roll-out in physical facilities. You
will have to look deeper into your supply chains, including the procurement of
sustainable food supplies, lower-carbon land transport and waste management. And, very importantly, the extent to which
local community benefit.
Given the well-known
socio-economic challenges in our country, we have to constantly ask ourselves the
question: are we creating positive legacies through mega-events and major
conferences, but also minor events and smaller meetings. Your task is not only to ‘do the right
thing’, but also to educate and raise awareness in your supply chains and among
those that participate in the events and meetings that you host. So much can be
achieved just by changing behaviour – in addition to the potential advances achievable
through improved waste management and greater water and energy efficiency.
We have a whole lot of work cut out
for us. Let us take the conference theme seriously: When we beat the drum, continuously ask how
we can accelerate the drum beat by innovating, forming new partnerships, and
maximising the opportunities brought about by emerging technologies. You can
rest assured, from the side of government we will be working with you to
enhance our tourism offerings – we know that our visitors expect more than
hotels and conference venues that are world-class, they seek meaningful
In conclusion, I look forward to
working with you to help make South Africa one of the leading business events
destinations in the world. I am
confident we can do this – in partnership! Thank you!