Homegrown events the key for growth in South Africa

Zinhle Nzama business events South Africa

Compared to 2019, a significantly larger proportion of destination respondents have reported seeing a decrease in the volume of their international business in 2022. This is according to the Global Destination Report which was released at IBTM World in November 2022.  

This is in part the aftermath effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has interrupted association congress cycles and the relative uncertainty has made some corporations reluctant to commit.  

However, destination respondents also reported that there had been an increase in both regional and national business events. There is no doubt that this will have been accelerated by the backlog of domestic events in the wake of the pandemic, but for some destinations, it indicates a renewed sense of value in what is on their doorstep. 

In fact, for South Africa, this has emboldened an existing plan to harness the power of national business events and association congresses, to nurture and to grow them and, crucially, keep them in the country so they might advance domestic industry and knowledge, ultimately improving the lives of citizens. 

Zinhle Nzama is the Acting Chief Convention Bureau Officer at the South African National Convention Bureau, and while at IBTM World she made time to speak in greater detail to TBOE about the National Association Project. 

TBOE: First, what is your message at IBTM World in 2022? 

Zinhle Nzama: Our message at IBTM World is that our doors are open, and our theme is to entice people to come to South Africa. During the two-year break because of Covid-19, we have been strategizing on rebuilding the value chain that contributes greatly to successful business events.  

TBOE: You are working hard to nurture domestic business events; to grow them, and to keep them in South Africa. Can you tell us more?  

ZN: We have a project called the National Association Project, and its fundamental purpose is to ensure that events are retained domestically. It aims to help establishments that are not yet ready to host business events in South Africa. We do a lot of work in assisting them in terms of ensuring that their establishments are up to standard for them to host events. This initiative sees us working together with large associations which want to come to South Africa.  

To help our work with these large associations, we have enlisted the help of other African chapters to come and work closely with them. The primary goal is to ensure that domestically we keep the events, and that we rotate them around South Africa to retain them. This enables us to build towards the future. 

TBOE: Which sector is a key interest for South Africa?  

ZN: We explore many different industries in terms of attracting business to come to South Africa, and one of the key sectors we have identified is medical science. We partner with our own thought leaders who have done some wonderful things in positioning South Africa as a medical science knowledge hub. There has been a lot of work in making the legacy of these sector events resonate. Our thought leaders demonstrate our capability as a country in terms of positioning our medical sector.  

As a destination, we look at different industries, and attract our business based on the level of experts there are residing in the country. It is key that the knowledge exchange resonates and leaves a legacy with the sector and South Africa itself. 

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