South Africa

Sandton Convention Centre / Image via Flickr: South African Tourism

South Africa growing as a destination for foreign delegates

South Africa is rated as Africa’s top destination for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE), forming an important sector to the tourism industry

South Africa

Sandton Convention Centre / Image via Flickr: South African Tourism

MICE is a term referring to Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions. While this industry continues to grow, it faces some challenges regarding traveller safety.

Business travel bodies stand together

There are negative perceptions of South Africa as a host for such events. Business travel bodies have come together to speak as one in an effort to address these perceptions and to redefine them.

Deputy Minister of Tourism, Fish Mahlalela said at a recent SAACI (Southern African Association for the Conference Industry) conference that it is government’s priority to ensure that tourists enjoy a safe visit to the country. 

This has been reiterated by Michael Tollman, CEO of Cullinan Holdaings Ltd: 

“Recent emphasis on the issue of crime in SA, as regards the MICE segment, has started to eclipse our own story. Again.” “Does SA have challenges? Yes. But it is not unique as globally there are challenges in leading MICE destinations from London to New York to Sydney.”

Tollman notes that the current concerns need to be perceived in context of the global landscape in terms of traveller safety and tourism performance in the country.

“Tourism performance in SA is a continued source of national productivity and pride. We are seeing an overall strong demand for bookings into South Africa for the 2019 year, and we are confident that we will see further growth in 2020 for our inbound tourist numbers,” says Tollman. 

He added that it is encouraging to see various governmental departments working together in an effort to boost the tourism sector. This is assisting in minimising the risky perceptions of the country, as well create employment among those working in tourism, home affairs and the police service. 

MICE supports tourism sector

MICE are an important part of the tourism industry in South Africa, who has been identified as a leader in terms of African destinations for such events. When hosting these business events, the country is able to showcase its capabilities, with venues and facilities of international standards.. Delegates often blend leisure with tourism, further benefiting the tourism sector. 

Johannesburg’s premier venues include the Sandton Convention Centre, the Expo Centre and the Wanderers Stadium. In KwaZulu-Natal, the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre, along with the Durban Exhibition Centre host conferences including the annual Indaba travel trade show. Cape Town’s ICC host a variety of conferences and events throughout the year. 

With increased flight access and some unusual venues, South Africa provides an attractive host of opportunities. Such venues include the historical Constitution Hill and the contemporary Zeitz Mocca Museum in Cape Town. 

There is a large market of travellers who enter the country for business – around 800 000 annually. South Africa is ranked as the best MICE destination on the continent, followed by Morocco and Rwanda. Studies show that a third of those who are introduced to the country on a business trip later return on a leisure trip. There are also delegates who extend their stay by a few extra days in order to explore the country once business has been taken care of.

People are attracted to the country not only for its infrastructure and venues, but for the culture, nature and wildlife too, making it a world-class MICE destination.

Locations for MICE events

These are locations recently awarded and honoured for their excellence in tourism and hospitality at the 2019 Lilizela Tourism Awards:

In-Hotel Conference Centre:

Mont d’ Or Hotel (Free State)

Events Venue:

Naba Lodge Conference Facility( Northern Cape)

Mthatha Dam Resort Luchaba Nature Reserve (Eastern Cape)

Sun Arena (Gauteng)

Function Venue:

Monakaladi Gardens Wedding and Conference Venue (North West)

AnnVilla Conference Venue (North West)

Conference Venue:

The Forum | The Campus (Gauteng)

Convention & Exhibition Centre:

Sandton Convention Centre (Gauteng)

Olive Convention Centre (KwaZulu-Natal)

Meetings, Exhibitions & Special Events (MESE): 

Birchwood Hotel and OR Tambo Conference Centre (Gauteng)

Centurion A Forever Hotel Conference (Gauteng)