Bringing the industry to the source of business inspiration

In its determination to attract people from across the world and strengthen profession expertise, the industry’s sustainability was the key insight from the 2019 media launch held at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

Hosted by South African Tourism (SA Tourism) and its business unit, the South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB), the event attracted local media, tourism, hospitality and business events gatekeepers. The event kick-started with a first for SA Tourism when chief executive Sisa Ntshona blew the horn to mark the opening of the stock market.

In his opening address to the media, Ntshona delved deep into how SA Tourism is looking to grow business tourism in the country through SANCB efforts to sell our country as a business events destination of choice.

He went on to add: “For tourism destinations the world over, as indeed for South Africa, competitive advantage goes beyond the beauty of a country. Embracing our ability as a country and technology in this widely talked-about 4th Industrial Revolution, the tourism industry is forced to evolve. Our biggest challenge is to define what this revolution means for the industry.”

Included in the formal proceedings was a panel discussion on the Importance of Trade Shows. The panel included SANCB chief convention bureau officer Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, Founder of Milvest Miller Matola and Tsogo Sun Marketing head of hotels, Lindelwa Isabelle.


The engaging discussion not only inspired, but challenged conventional thinking. It cannot be ignored how the conventions industry has become a fiercely competitive business, not just for the country but globally.

“More than showcasing product, exhibitions grow other entities. Through our Meet Here, Grow Anywhere, distinct positioning, SANCB provides a route to market for all who attend. We need to make sure that the continent, not just South Africa, gets its favourable market share,” said Kotze-Nhlapo.

“Exhibitions not only play an important role to profile our country as a business and leisure destination of choice. It is a mutually beneficial partnership with growth beyond a stand,” said Isabelle.

Matola added: “Trade shows develop and strengthen brands. We need to ensure that sustainability in the Mice industry (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) goes beyond the environment to inclusiveness, and filters through to the previously disadvantaged with service potential at trade shows.”

“Sustainability is a key deliverable element of Meetings Africa. How we are going about our business will influence its staying power in years to come,” said Ntshona. This means that countries will have to work together to ensure such market demands are met.

The first exhibitions took place in 1855. Since then, the industry has grown to 31 000 trade shows annually, with 4.4-million companies directly involved and a $98-billion traveller’s spend across the globe. Business tourism, which includes the Mice industry, is an $800-billion industry globally.

Part of Meetings Africa’s role is to showcase the best of the best in our capabilities not only as a country, but as a continent. Meetings Africa serves as a primary platform for Africa’s business events professionals to showcase their diverse services and products to global buyers and create partnership opportunities with African associations to help transform and contribute towards the continent’s economic growth.

For Ntshona, this year’s Meetings Africa is a “show and tell, inviting the world to say as the African continent we have the capabilities and competence to host business events”.

Of all the sectors in South Africa, Ntshona said tourism has the greatest potential to curb unemployment. Matola backed this up, saying that the trade show industry had created 150 000 jobs.

He added that trade shows are still the most important form of marketing, second only to direct selling. “Trade, investment and commerce are key brand building functions and business executives still agree that trade shows are key for the marketing of various industries.”

This year’s Meetings Africa promises to be the biggest yet, with exhibitors from numerous African countries that are participating for the first time. Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania and Mauritius will be the new additions to the 70 exhibitors from outside Africa.

About 230 South African exhibitors make up the rest of the numbers. Approximately 400 highly qualified buyers from 36 countries around the world are expected to attend in 2019, about 100 more than last year.

Continuing under the theme “Shared Economies”, Meetings Africa 2019 takes place on February 26-27 2019 at the Sandton Convention Centre.

  • Meetings Africa is a Pan-African Business Events Trade Show that has been in existence for 13 years. The trade show was born in response to the global meetings industry’s growing recognition of Africa as a sought-after premier business events destination.
  • For further information, contact:
    Altaaf Kazi at South African Tourism
    Tel: +27 11 895-3046

    Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

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