SA Tourism looking at full recovery in 2024

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The South African tourism industry is gearing up to achieve its full recovery this year. The sector has its sight on hosting some of the major international events from this year up to 2029 with a total revenue of R1.2 billion.

Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille has launched the 2024 edition of Africa’s leading business events tourism trade show, named Meetings Africa. The event which is scheduled to take place in Sandton between the 26th and 28th February 2024 will host over 3 000 African business owners including exhibitors and buyers.

Thousands of tourism practitioners are expected to gather in Sandton in the coming month for the 2024 Meetings Africa event from 51 countries including key source markets such as USA, India, Kenya, Brazil, the UK and Germany amongst others.

De Lille officially launched the event with expectations of the Meetings Africa 2024 building on economic successes from last year’s event.

“Last year we attracted 273 hosted buyers and 355 exhibitors from 22 African countries and welcomed over 2 900 delegates and the economic impact the meetings Africa 2023 made a substantial contribution of R388.5 million to the South African economy and in addition to verified figures shows also that Meetings Africa 2023 created and maintained 753 jobs within the economy,”

This is an annual multi stakeholder event that speaks to economic growth, with South Africa through the SA National Convention Bureau and the SA business event industry submitting 63 bids to host international meetings and exhibitions in the country between 2024 and 2029 valued at over R1. 2 billion.

“I was encouraged by today’s conversations because you didn’t have just the representative from National entity talking about Meetings Africa and the role of the event in creating a positive economic impact, you had provinces and our Tourism partners from the private sector and the importance of that, we are then able to look forward, not a once off commitment to a singular year. So, when you talk 2029 it’s what is the strategic vision for meetings Africa for the longest term and for me it’s creating a MICE industry that is long term and sustainable,” says SA Tourism Acting CEO Nombulelo Guliwe.

The launch also saw a panel discussion amongst stakeholders with small businesses calling for an inclusive event that will ensure their maximum participation.

“What my expectation is for Meetings Africa 2024 is to ensure that we finally get to a space where an inclusive economy is something that is prioritised primarily by this I mean not leaving the youth behind, I think at a macro level we all understand that unemployment in South Africa is very high and particularly affects the young people of South Africa, so one is to see demonstrations of market access to the event, it keels but also to the ecosystem that exists post all of that,” says SizweSihle Dlamini, Entrepreneur.

The Tourism Minister says South Africa’s Tourism numbers have picked up at 96 % with the ministry anticipating a full recovery in 2024 and the minister believes key to this will be the easing of visa regulations through an air access strategy that will be presented to government in March.

Government and Tourism role players looking to generate substantial social and inclusive economic impacts through the 2024 meetings Africa event, create well needed jobs and ensure a sustainable development of the tourism value chain on the continent and globally.

Video: Tourism Minister De Lille launches 2024 edition of Meetings Africa to be held from 26-28 Feb: