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Provinces urged to host conferences as part of accelerating tourism in less visited areas

TOURISM IS a key sector for the South African economy and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector contributed more than R426 billion to the economy and contributed in creating 1.5 million jobs.

Provinces urged to host conferences as part of accelerating tourism in less visited areas

During this time, as the pandemic globally impacted tourism and travel, the meetings industry continues to play its role in finding solutions, connecting businesses and creating learning platforms, but now through virtual platforms.

As the value of face to face meetings are debated, it becomes very evident that business networking is the one aspect that can never develop organic when we are meeting on a screen.

In their continued efforts to assist the business events sector’s recovery, and encouraging corporates and professional associations to meet again, the South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB) has launched the National Association Project. This project aims to Spread the Economic Benefits of hosting, conferences and meetings in smaller towns and villages.

The National Association Project plays a key role in assisting both the local association sector and the Provinces. It assists the local association sector by enabling them to start hosting regular national conferences again, and in future, to be able to host international conventions and meetings; while at the same time capacitating the Provinces to host National Association Conferences in less visited places across the country.

The project seeks to achieve the following objectives;

1.    To ensure regional spread by assisting the National Associations to host their meetings and conferences in ‘Villages Townships and Small Dorpies (VTSD’s) across all nine Provinces in South Africa. 

2.    Bidding Capacity Building: Developing a bid support program and system for National Association meetings and conferences.

3.    Infrastructure Development: Assist VTSD’s across South Africa to develop their meeting and conferencing infrastructure by bidding for National Association Meetings and Conferences.

4.    Pre and Post Tours: Promote tourism experiences (pre and post tour packages for delegates and accompanying person program) in VTSD’s that can be marketed to delegates by local SMME’s, contributing to domestic tourism.

5.    Procurement: Incentivise the procurement of conferencing goods and services from local service providers in VTSD’s.

South Africa has a well-established professional and trade association industry spanning across various sectors. Many of whom are linked to or are members of an international professional and trade associations, as part of their international or regional affiliation, these national associations are therefore eligible to bid for the hosting rights of meetings and conferences organised by international or regional organisations.

“By partnering with such associations to host national conferences, we are able to tap into their international or regional affiliation, to secure future business events bidding opportunities for South Africa,” says Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, Chief Convention Bureau Officer of the SANCB.

The qualifying Associations have to follow a strict qualifying criteria in order to prove their eligibility to host their conference. 

Key to this criteria is the duration of the conference, it states that – “the conference or meeting must be a minimum of two full days, as well as the days of the week, the criteria indicates that the conference days must border a weekend to enable pre and post tours (taking a shot’ left, before or after the conference) and must offer an accompanying person programmes, encouraging attending delegates to bring their partner, family or friend)  in order to secure more visitors to the township, village or small town and  to create demand for domestic travel.

Kotze-Nhlapo further said “The National Association project is just one way we, as an organisation can ensure that we give confidence to our National Associations to trust VTSDs with their meetings and business event.

We look for ways to shift the focus from frequently visited destinations, to those that are less visited. This will go a long way in assisting the sector recover post the pandemic as we gear up to host more international and regional events and conferences.”

In line with the theme for World Tourism Day this year, which is “Tourism for inclusive growth” this projects seeks to do just that,” Kotze-Nhlapo concluded.

Image (Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo CE at SANCB).

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