“Though some do disagree the Organisers of meetings Africa released a report stating that numbers where up 20% year-on-year, whilst international visitors doubled from 106 in 2011 to 205 in 2012”
The Sandton Convention Centre Johannesburg reports record attendance numbers for the recently concluded 2012 Meetings Africa international exhibition.
Overall attendance was 20 percent up compared to 2011, recording 3 452 visitors and with registered international visitor numbers nearly doubling from 106 in 2011 to 205 in 2012.
“We are delighted with the huge success of this year’s exhibition which has been hailed by South African Tourism Chief Executive Officer, Thulani Nzima, as the most successful Meetings Africa show yet.
The incredible attendance by both foreign and local visitors has certainly done much to position the Sandton Convention Centre as the definitive home of business tourism in South Africa,” says Mati Nyazema, Executive Director of the Sandton Convention Centre.
It is the seventh consecutive year that the venue played host to South African Tourism’s largest marketing platform, showcasing Africa’s MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, Exhibitions) industry to both local and international buyers.
For the Sandton Convention Centre, Meetings Africa provided a platform to showcase its pedigree, as part of Southern Sun Hotels which in turn is a division of Tsogo Sun Group, South Africa’s leading hotels, gaming and entertainment company. The formidable Tsogo Sun team proved a force to be reckoned with and produced an impressive exhibition stand that went on to win the Best Stand Award in the large category (19 sqm and over).
“As part of the Southern Sun Group, the Sandton Convention Centre enjoys a competitive edge in that it can offer delegates a one stop conference and hotel product, with competitive rates from the adjoining three to five star group hotels in Sandton,” says Nyazema. The Southern Sun presence includes over 1 000 rooms available from the Intercontinental Sandton Towers, Sandton Sun and Garden Court Sandton City.
“In fact, there are 15 world-class hotels located within walking distance of the convention centre, as well as the convenience of direct access to a number of world-class shopping, dining and entertainment offerings within Sandton City via the sky bridge, the centre is ideally positioned to integrate our complementary interests and leverage off our combined service offering.”
Morning Live, South Africa’s premium morning television news show, also devoted one broadcast from theMeetings Africa exhibition, reinforcing the importance of the event on the local exhibition calendar. When interviewed by well-known Morning Live host, Leanne Mannas, Nyazema commented that in recent years, the City of Johannesburg through the Sandton Convention centre, has taken a firm positioning as the primary home of local and international business tourism in South Africa.
Nyazema says that perhaps the most encouraging news for the local tourism industry is the increased interest in South Africa from the BRICS nations seen at the panel discussion that took place between tourism representatives from South Africa, China, India, Brazil and Russia on the penultimate day of the exhibition.
“A number of hosted BRICS buyers commented not only on being impressed with the variety of establishments and experiences South Africa as a destination offers, but also the great organisation of the exhibition as a whole, the facilities on offer, as well as the friendliness and professionalism shown by all Sandton Convention Centrestaff at the event,” she adds.
According to Nyazema the success of the Sandton Convention Centre is a result of the combined efforts of dedicated staff members. “The combination of experienced event management experts makes for a formidable team with over a decade of combined SCC event experience under their belts. A key focus for us is training and up-skilling of our staff . This ensures that we not only provide our clients with access to the highest calibre of people but also maintain a good staff retention track record,” she says.
Sandton Convention Centre has hosted several high-profile international events including the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development; the 2005 World Petroleum Congress and the 60th Fifa Congress held in 2010.
More evidence of the Sandton Convention Centre’s status as one of Johannesburg’s most desirable meetings and events venues is its selection to host amongst other prestigious events in 2012: the third Annual Biological Safety Conference taking place in June 2012 ; the International Small Business Congress and Expo happening in September 2012; as well as the 27th International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists Congress and the 2012 Discop Africa Expo both taking place in October.
“We launched an aggressive bidding strategy two years ago, and the return has been phenomenal. Strong alignments were secured with industry and destination stakeholders. Through having a clear vision and objectives in place, the results are coming through with an increased conversion rate for international bids,” comments Nyazema.
The SCC was shortlisted earlier this year as one of three countries that will be presenting their bid for the 2016 World Association of Chefs Society Congress. “South Africa has been shortlisted alongside Turkey and Greece and an entire delegation will be attending the conference in Daejeon, Korea, for the 2012 conference where we will be presenting our bid. We are confident that we will bring the event to South Africa,” concludes Nyazema.