At his post-budget vote industry engagement, Deputy Minister of Tourism of South Africa Fish Mahlalela expressed optimism about the future of South Africa’s tourism sector. He declared that the future of the nation was now bright and it was time that the country reclaimed its position as an attractive tourism and business events destination.
The stakeholder engagement, held at the Century City Convention Centre in Cape Town on May 26, brought together leaders of the business events industry to continue collaborations that would lead the sector to contribute fully once again to not only the economy, but also exhibit the work being done by the business events sector.
At the event, the extent of damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic to South Africa’s tourism sector. The African business events industry declined from USD 13,6 billion in 2019 to 3.1 billion USD in 2020. However, now with easing of travel rules and a significant revival of tourism, the industry expects to get back to its pre-pandemic figures by 2024.
“The move by our President to lift the National State of Disaster in April this year allows the tourism sector to once again contribute fully and meaningfully towards the South African economy and towards job creation. The easing of restrictions on gatherings has already shown to have a positive impact on business events and will provide great reprieve for the South African tourism sector and in turn, the economy,” said Mahlalela.
South African Tourism’s Chief Convention Bureau Officer Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo emphasised the importance of collaboration within the tourism and business events segment for a revival. She believes that the business events industry will reignite recovery of the sector and fill up the conference rooms once again with people by attracting visitors to their shores.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has made it increasingly important for us as a sector to work together, we will continue to work with the industry to actively seek to develop leads for future business events to ensure that South Africa develops and maintains a bid pipeline for continued growth of the event sector,” said Kotze-Nhlapo.
The engagement also shed light on some of the work being done by the business events industry to ensure the sector’s recovery. The RISE project is one such project which has been championed by the South African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI).
“This is a project aimed at utilising the business events industry as a catalyst for social upliftment and in turn providing capacity building and skills transfer for community growth within the identified rural areas,” said SAACI CEO Glenton de Kock.
Mahlalela concluded the event by pledging the government’s continuous commitment to growing the business events industry and its efforts and investment to this sector.