Events hosted by the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC) contributed R6.3 billion (€384-million) to the country’s GDP in the last financial year and the city (and country) continues to be an attractive and preferred destination to host international events.

So said Durban ICC CEO, Lindiwe Rakharebe, in reaction to a query by Tourism Update amid concerns raised by some operators that safety concerns could impact the business travel sector.

“The more effectively we can address clients’ concerns regarding crime, the more international business we will be able to secure as a country,” she said, adding, however, that Durban had not been adversely affected. “This is largely owing to the unified and co-ordinated community of stakeholders that ensure the safety and security of delegates and visitors to our destination.”

Executive chairman of Dragonfly Africa, Rupert Jeffries, highlighted that this was true for his company as well, noting that its leisure and MICE businesses have continued to grow.

“With the MICE market we are fortunate in that there is always an inspection trip prior to confirming South Africa and nine times out of ten the client is completely won over by the sophistication, friendliness, good service and diversity of the destination that we have here in South Africa,” he said.

Rakharebe agreed, pointing out that from South Africa’s rich history and heritage, to the wildlife and natural beauty, it continued to create a lasting impression on travellers from across the globe.

 

She said accessibility –  in terms of direct air routes – and the favourable exchange rate were some of the major factors event organisers took into consideration when deciding on a host destination for their event.

“Secondary considerations are conference venue capacity and flexibility, as well as the proximity of the conference venue to nearby hotels,”  said Rakharebe.

Chief Conventions Bureau Officer of the South African National Conventions Bureau (SANCB), Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, pointed out to Tourism Update that, when bidding for any business events to come to South Africa, factors such as accessibility, cost-effectiveness and ease of doing business were all considered.

“Reputation and perceptions of the destination also play a role,” she said, adding that South Africa had an excellent track record in international events, which has seen the country host some significant meetings that include COP17, the 5th BRICS Summit, and the International AIDS conference.

“Few global destinations offer the variety of meeting, exhibition and incentive options available in South Africa,” she added.