Strong Growth In Meetings Africa Attendance
Meetings Africa 2023 – the first fully-fledged event since the COVID-19 pandemic – saw the participation of over 375 buyers from 60 countries meeting with 325 exhibitors from 22 African countries.
Last year’s event drew 161 global buyers and 216 exhibitors from 13 African countries.
At the official welcome ceremony yesterday (February 28), Acting CEO of South African Tourism, Themba Khumalo, highlighted that there were seven new countries exhibiting for the first time this year – Angola, Gabon, Togo, South Sudan, Senegal, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast.
Khumalo noted the high level of co-operation between African countries, which was the key to unlocking economic growth on the continent.
Deputy Minister of Tourism, Fish Mahlalela, reiterated that message, commenting: “We must explore potential areas of collaboration and partnerships in the African convention and exhibition industry to achieve globally benchmarked standards.”
Acting CEO of the South African National Convention Bureau, Zinhle Nzama, noted that, following the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the tourism and MICE sectors, working together to overcome new and existing challenges would be the industry’s “superpower”.
“No single country has the solution to the challenges faced by this sector and this is why us gathering here at Meetings Africa is so important as we ideate towards a better industry,” she said.
Skills and knowledge sharing
CEO of the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI), Glenton de Kock, added that the collaboration between countries and trade partners should be about sharing skills and knowledge to rebuild the sector post-COVID.
“We have to look at how we can manage the aspects we can control and to be nimble and find the right opportunities. We have to ask about how honest we are in our conversations so we can learn from each other.
“At Meetings Africa you have to ask each other: ‘have you secured business?’, how do you bring skills to the table?’ and ‘have you reconnected with business partners from the past?’.”
Greater SMME participation
Mahlalela explained that Meetings Africa brought the African continent’s business events, products and offerings under a single roof, with a specific focus on SMMEs and their value chain to the entire tourism sector.
This year, Meetings Africa has improved access for small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) to the trade show by introducing the ‘plug and meet’ pavilion, which offers full access at a reduced rate. This package was offered to twenty SMMEs. Additionally, 45 SMMEs will showcase at the event.