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TThe gala dinner, hosted at the end of a successful first day of the show, provided an opportunity for the business events industry to celebrate the ten year milestone, the achievements of the African business events industry as a whole over the last decade and look ahead to the next ten years of Meeting Africa.
The South African Minister of Tourism, Mr. Derek Hanekom, used the opportunity to thank the Meetings Africa partners and stakeholders for their warm welcome and the valuable support they provide to a tradeshow which has grown from strength to strength over the last decade to become the best and most accessible pan-African business events platform.
“Aptly, our theme is: Advancing Africa Together. Collective effort is the way to go – in fact, it is essential if we all wish to continue on this robust growth path,” explained the Minister.
Mr. Hanekom said that South Africa is “bullish about the future” of the business events industry.
South Africa has already secured 177 major international association meetings for the next five years. These meetings will have an estimated economic impact of R3.5 billion and will bring about 253 000 delegates to South Africa.
However, as Mr. Hanekom pointed out, the legacy impact of business events extends far beyond its numbers value. “Business events and conventions are arteries for innovation and new thinking in the knowledge economy. This is where the best minds connect, where competitiveness in the global market place is redefined, and where we create platforms to collaboratively solve common global problems,” he explained.
Since the first Meetings Africa in 2005, South Africa has seen significant investment in its business events infrastructure including the opening and expansion of a number of convention centres.
It has also seen the establishment in 2012 of the South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB) to coordinate the country’s efforts in attracting more business events to South Africa.