It’s just over a month since the last of South Africa’s COVID-19 regulations were dropped – including the capacity cap on venues for events – and venues and hotels are seeing the difference.
The July 16 South Africa-Wales rugby test decider played at Cape Town’s DHL Stadium saw nearly 51 000 people pack the venue to cheer the Springboks to victory, with Western Cape Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger noting: “The Western Cape Government is excited by the opportunity the match offered as a springboard for the return of the events industry, now that all COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.”
Acting CEO of South African Tourism, Themba Khumalo, noted that the revision of the COVID-19 management regulations had heralded a new chapter for the country. “The lifting of the final restrictions has meant that the strain placed on the business events, live social events and exhibitions has been removed. The return of delegates and exhibitors from across the globe when we hosted our two signature trade shows earlier this year – Meetings Africa and Africa’s Travel Indaba – proved that travellers and business event delegates want to come to South Africa.”
Khumalo added that SA Tourism continued to work with partners and policymakers towards easier visa facilitation, improved airlift for a better-connected continent and the rest of the world and, of course, providing value for money for both the domestic traveller and international visitors.
Tim Cordon, Senior Area Vice President, Middle East & Africa at Radisson Hotel Group, said: “The release of these restrictions gives us the capability to give full throttle to this side of our industry again, and return it to, and hopefully exceed, pre-pandemic levels.”
Another factor helping to further stimulate business travel is that hotel prices are dropping.
Data shared by global travel search engine Cheapflights.co.za for the period June 17 to 30, showed an almost 50% decrease in hotel prices across all star ratings compared with the same period pre-pandemic in 2019.
“Hotels are striving to make accommodation prices very attractive for travellers, and this includes business travellers and those travelling for events and conferences too,” noted Cordon.
“It’s a great time to host meetings or events for national or even international teams, with prices being so good. But more than that, it’s a great opportunity to reconnect team members in a face-to-face environment. There may be new members on the team who have only met each other via digital platforms. Having people engage on a personal level can build a team’s relationships and trust in each other, and good working relationships lead to better team spirit and productivity,” he said.
Best of both worlds
Cordon added that while certain events and meetings were back to being hosted in person, digital meetings still had a firm foothold in reducing costs such as time and fuel, and allowing teams that might be situated in different parts of the country or world to meet easily wherever they were.
“This is where hybrid meetings come in,” said Cordon. “The ability to pull a local team together in person, and dial in the rest of the team from across the country or other countries, is very convenient and opens a broader engagement opportunity with diversified individuals in a team.
“The implications for more creative concepts being developed are very exciting,” he added.