Intl conferences can help grow SA's economy | Fin24
 
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Intl conferences can help grow SA's economy

Jul 26 2016 16:18

Cape Town - Attracting international conferences to South Africa is seen as essential in boosting the tourism economy, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by government, according to Nicholas Barenblatt, group marketing manager of Protea Hotels by Marriott and African Pride Hotels.  

Research shows tourism supports one in every 12 jobs in South Africa, positioning the industry as a great driver of economic growth. But, unless active steps are taken to enhance the industry even further, its full potential may not be realised.

Barenblatt points out that Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom stated last month that the local business events industry contributed over R1bn to the economy in 2015. Hotel groups also say a focus on conferencing is important for the development of the industry.  

“It is encouraging to see that so many of the role players have put conferencing at the forefront of growth in the industry,” says Barenblatt.
 
Among the initiatives undertaken to attract more business events is the establishment of the South African National Convention Bureau within South African Tourism. Tasked with marketing South Africa as a destination for international conferences, the bureau’s website offers useful information to assist businesses to plan conferences and to develop incentive programmes to reward their staff for their work successes.
 
“South Africa is well positioned to take advantage of the incentive market,” says Barenblatt. “International corporates running conferences in South Africa can add a leisure trip for employees to experience the unique activities our country offers: wildlife, Table Mountain, or a weekend away in wine country.”

In his view, SA's attractiveness for business conferences is enhanced by the expansion of long-haul flight routes to the main cities, in particular Cape Town.

Recently, Ethiopian Airlines, the Turkish national carrier, Kenya Airlines and British Airways have all added Cape Town to their direct flight routes and Emirates added a third flight into the city, making it far more accessible to the world’s business people.

In addition, recent initiatives include the opening of new conference facilities. The new Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town offers 20 venues, for instance and the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) is being expanded.

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