Government is putting its money where its mouth is by committing an amount of R90 million (€5.46m) to be used over the next three years to help South Africa draw more international MICE numbers to the country.

This was confirmed by CEO of South African Tourism, Sisa Ntshona, speaking to Tourism Update on the side lines of Meetings Africa, being held at Johannesburg’s Sandton International Convention Centre over the next two days.

Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, commented in her opening address that the government was committed to growing South Africa’s business events industry and would continue to pledge financial support to the industry.

“The support enables us to bid more aggressively when bidding for international association conferences, meetings, incentives and exhibitions. This means that our national convention bureau and our provincial and city convention bureaus can provide intensive support across the bidding process,” she said.

The industry directly and indirectly sustains more than 250 000 jobs and contributes an estimated R115 billion (€6.97bn) to South Africa’s economy, underlining an incontestable fact that business tourists spent more than leisure tourists, said the Minister, highlighting that the growth outlook for the sector was incredibly positive.

“With many African countries making remarkable economic strides in the past few years, the global meetings industry has come to regard the continent as a dynamic, sought-after destination. Hence, Africa is the second-fastest-growing tourism region in the world,” said Kubayi-Ngubane.

She added that Africa comprised countries at varying degrees of development, the majority of which now formed part of the growth cycle. “Therefore, collaboration rather than competition is crucial to assist all African countries to realise their potential.”

This year’s event is the biggest Meetings Africa since its inception 15 years ago, drawing 321 exhibitors from 20 African countries and 313 visitors from across the continent.