Participating South African SMMEs are capitalising on the 2019 Meetings Africa conference to connect with international Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) clients.

Networking is the key

Masibulele Makaula, a representative of Osiba Management, told Tourism Update that the networking at Meetings Africa was opening up excellent channels for business in the tourism space. “Osiba Management came to Meetings Africa to promote conferences in South Africa to the global market. We are meeting people from different countries, many of whom want to host their conferences in South Africa.”

Makaula says networking with international MICE clients gives them an idea of what the international market is looking for in a conference in SA. “A lot of people we’ve spoken to at Meetings Africa are willing to bring their conferences to South Africa. They like the ‘look’ of the [SA] market, and are saying that South Africa is a great destination for conferences. Clients that we’ve spoken to from India, for example, want to come here.”

The US is another major source market showing growing interest in conferencing in SA, says Makaula. “Last year, for example, Osiba managed the US Infrastructure Conference. The client was delighted with the services in South Africa, how things are handled in the country, and said that she was willing to bring the conference to SA again.”

Bleisure packaging

When managing conferences such as the US Infrastructure Conference, Makaula says Osiba offers pre- and post-conference tours, which gives MICE visitors the opportunity to experience more of South Africa. “This shows visitors what SA is about. They don’t just come for conferences – they extend their trips to include leisure travel as well.

“The biggest demand we have are for safaris and ‘democratic’ tours,” says Makaula, the latter taking travellers to historic South African landmarks, showing them attractions and sites that are significant from the apartheid era, and the struggles that South Africans faced.

The MICE sector is growing in South Africa, says Makaula: clients are seeing the value of what the country has to offer, which isn’t limited to just business travel, but leisure tourism as well.