R90 million (€6.6m) of Treasury’s additional R494 million (€36m) allocation to tourism will be allocated to driving the meetings and events space, including the formation of a bidding fund.

SA Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona, told the trade as much during a webinar on Friday, hosted by Tourism Update in collaboration with SA Tourism.

The R494m allocation over three years will be split between the Department of Tourism and SA Tourism, with R230m (€16.8m) allocated to the former and the balance to the latter. SA Tourism will also use its allocation to drive geographical spread, ensuring that conferences do not only take place in the big metros.

Ntshona emphasised that the theme of the Budget speech was inclusive growth, which he said was also an important element of the tourism sector. He pointed out that, like leisure tourism, the meetings and events segment had a multiplier effect, where hosting a big event had positive ripple effects for other economies. He added that SA Tourism marketed pre and post tours for major events, so that leisure tourism also benefited from events.

Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, Chief Convention Bureau Officer of the South Africa National Conventions Bureau (SANCB), said the meetings and events segment was an exciting space that had continued to grow. She said the bureau was excited that the segment was getting attention and additional investment from Treasury.

Kotze-Nhlapo highlighted Meetings Africa, taking place in Sandton, Johannesburg, this week, which she said would showcase South Africa’s and the continent’s meetings and events offering. “We come together, not just as South Africa, but also as Africa, to take on the world.”

At this year’s show, SA Tourism would focus on attracting meetings from African associations, said Kotze-Nhlapo, adding that the strategy would help grow the country’s economy. African association buyers and corporate buyers are being hosted by South African Tourism as part of this effort.

Ntshona highlighted a trend among companies seeking “conferencing with a purpose”, where companies want to know what legacy a conference leaves behind. He said SA Tourism wanted to take advantage of this trend. He emphasised that the monthly webinars would be ongoing to drive engagement with the industry. “We want to open up ourselves as SA Tourism to become accessible and consultative,” adding that the organisation would also share its plans going forward.

To hear the full webinar, click here.