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HEADQUARTERS E U R O P E , M I D D L E - E A S T, A F R I C A

Destination Report South Africa is a special edition of HeadQuarters Magazine - September 2010 published by Meeting Media Company (Belgium) - www.headquartersmagazine.com - press@headquartersmagazine.com

SOUTH AFRICA PLAYS AND WINS


Table Mountain, near Cape Town

> INTRODUCTION

SCORING IN

SOUTH AFRICA EXCEPT IF YOU LIVED ON ANOTHER PLANET OVER THE LAST MONTHS, IT’S IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOU NOT TO KNOW THAT SOUTH AFRICA HOSTED THE 2010 FIFA WORLD CUP™. NOW THAT IT’S OVER, IT’S TIME FOR THEM TO BUILD ON THE REPUTATION THEY’VE GROWN FOR THEMSELVES AS RELIABLE HOSTS FOR BIG EVENTS. OF COURSE IT WAS ALREADY THE CASE BEFORE THE WORLD CUP, BUT IT’S NOW TRUE MORE THAN EVER, AS SOUTH AFRICA IS ON THE INTERNATIONAL MAP LIKE NEVER BEFORE, WITH NEW STATE-OF-THEART INFRASTRUCTURE AND UNBEATABLE COMMITMENT FOR SERVICE AND EXCELLENCE. NOW COULD BE THE IDEAL TIME FOR ASSOCIATIONS TO VISIT A COUNTRY WHICH SURELY IS A ONE-OF-A-KIND DESTINATION. REPORT RÉMI DÉVÉ

It was my first time in South Africa - let alone Africa - and lucky for me my plane landed right in the middle of the 2010 World Cup’s final. I was there for all the rejoicing and the cheering up and the fireworks following Spain’s victory and could actually sense how sports can bring people together, in a common, super joyful celebration. This was an ideal start for my journey and what later became a symbol for South Africa’s ability to deliver. As I visited Johannesburg, Durban, East London and Cape Town (and much more in between!), with their varied offers, I could see why so many associations have already selected the country as their

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destination of choice and why other associations definitely should.

DYNAMISM AND INFRASTRUCTURE The dynamism of South Africa is almost tangible. Of course infrastructure was improved to host the World Cup, but it seems they won’t stop there, it’s all part of a bigger plan to make South Africa an unmissable business tourism destination. Here, the road network is developed; there, a new convention centre just opened; here, they operate a brand-new train; there an elegant hotel just saw the light of day. The freshly opened International

Convention Centre in East London, the shiny Gautrain linking the airport to downtown Johannesburg, the spic-and-span King Shaka airport or the recently-launched KwaZuluNatal Convention Bureau in Durban are the best examples of this vigor. In terms of conference facilities, Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg are the country’s major convention cities and boast facilities they have nothing to blush about, as the venues received awards and accolades their international competitors are yearning for. In addition to the International Convention Centre in East London I just mentioned, new international convention centres are in the pipeline in Pretoria and Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State, while there are more than 1,700 smaller conferencing venues across the country, for all kinds of meetings and budgets. If you wonder about accessibility, it seems that getting there has never been easier. With additional flights from Air France recently introduced, there are now 28 flights weekly between Johannesburg and Amsterdam and Paris. London and Zurich are also almost next door, thanks to KLM and Swiss


> INTRODUCTION

The dynamism of South Africa is almost tangible. Of course infrastructure was improved to host the World Cup, but it seems they won’t stop there, it’s all part of a bigger plan to make South Africa an unmissable business tourism destination Cape Town from the air

During the opening game of the World Cup

Air. South African Airways recently added a service between Johannesburg and Munich, while they also operate daily services between Johannesburg and both New York and Washington DC. Dubai-based Emirates Airlines has added four new flights to bring their tally to 18 flights a week to Johannesburg and Etihad Airways is also in the place. Additionally, domestic flights are quite developed: in the week I was there I traveled all around the country in a blink of an eye!

WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW I won’t focus in this introduction on all the activities you can do during a pre- or a post-conference tour - this will be part of the last section of my report. Here I’m more interested - like associations are - in the links there are between those associations and South Africa. Why, indeed, does it make sense for them to organize their event(s) there? Most people would think of the quality and diversity of its wildlife, and rightly so. But let me mention a few things that you might not know about South Africa. Part of the global economy and an efficient player on the world stage, South Africa is the most advanced industrialised country in Africa.

+ Its motor industry is thriving : South Africa is the sole producer of the Mercedes Benz C Class right-hand drive vehicles, it’s exporting locally assembled version of the US Hummer 3 and hosts the only BMW manufacturing plant outside Germany. + South Africa has the first, largest and most viable oil-from-coal refineries (SASOL), the technology for which is attracting renewed interest in an oil-dependent world. It also has amongst the world’s largest deposits of high-quality low-sulphur coal, of iron ore and of platinum. + Its banking sector is one of the most technologically advanced and sophisticated in the world. + South Africa is the first country outside the European nations to gain Blue Flag status for its coastal management of unpolluted beaches. + South Africa designs and creates flight control technology for Britain’s fighter jets, and is a preferred supplier to Aerosud and Boeing. It’s also a world leader in satellite tracking and supports satellites launched from facilities such as the Kennedy Space Flight Centre. In the field of medicine, science and technology, South Africa is also an innovator. For instance, the world’s first heart transplant was performed in Cape Town in 1967, and the Cat Scan (CT), which is used in hospitals around the world, was developed by an African physicist. I can also name Dolosse, these reinforced concrete blocks that protect harbours worldwide, or the mine-protected armoured vehicles. These are of course only examples! So forget about the distorted images that you can have of South Africa, possibly those

Cape Town waterfront

Johannesburg

of a second-tier country where nothing works, everything’s old, where there are just pockets of modernity for foreign travellers. Add a pinch of excellent value for money: you will wonder why you haven’t gone there earlier. I personally experienced it.

CONTACT Tina Herold Business Tourism Manager Europe Tél: + 33 1 45 61 64 41 tina@afriquedusud-tourisme.fr www.southafrica.net

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> INTERVIEW

“SOUTH AFRICA CAN DELIVER, AND DELIVER WELL” NOMASONTO NDLOVU, SOUTH AFRICA TOURISM GLOBAL MANAGER FOR BUSINESS TOURISM, EXPLAINS WHAT MAKES SOUTH AFRICA SUCH A SPECIAL DESTINATION. WHEN ONE ADDS THE DESTINATION’S NATURAL BEAUTY, INNATE SERVICE CULTURE AND FRIENDLINESS TO THE INFRASTRUCTURE ON OFFER, WE CANNOT BUT FEEL EXTREMELY POSITIVE ABOUT SOUTH AFRICA’S FUTURE.

global events. Among the upgrades that are especially relevant for large meetings and conferences are the high speed passenger rail system in Gauteng (the Gautrain); significantly improved road networks; better public transport infrastructure; additional capacity and resources across the travel and tourism industry and refurbished airports as good as any to be found anywhere else on earth.

Nomasonto Ndlovu

HQ: The World Cup just took place in South Africa. How do you think this will affect the Southern-African meetings industry? Nomasonto Ndlovu: Hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ has profoundly changed perceptions about South Africa’s global event capability. It gave us an opportunity to prove what we were always confident of: that South Africa can deliver, and deliver well, against the World’s highest expectations. It is now easier for us to make the case for South Africa’s standing as a capable and world-class meetings destination. The 2010 FIFA World Cup™ was the most successful World Cup ever and was second only to the USA hosted event in terms of attendance. Infrastructural upgrades ahead of the championship have boosted the capacity of an already well-equipped destination to host big

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South Africa has grown in stature in the international meetings arena and it has matured as a destination. HQ: In what way has the Southern-African meetings industry changed over the past years? Nomasonto Ndlovu: South Africa has grown in stature in the international meetings arena and it has matured as a destination. Burgeoning arrivals and destination demand have created improved service levels and professionalism. South Africa works hard to improve its offerings and to secure formal recognition of this improvement. ICCA, for example, shows that in 2007 we hosted 67 association meetings, while in 2009 we hosted 90 meetings. It’s a 34 %increase over three years! HQ: How does South Africa cater to international associations specifically? Nomasonto Ndlovu: At Meetings Africa, our annual trade show, we have launched an Association Day where associations can share

ideas, challenges and solutions whilst networking with the Business Tourism industry players. Meetings Africa is also an ideal platform where associations can see what our destination has to offer in terms of planning, organising or co-ordinating a meeting. It is not something you can afford to miss if you are looking for a fresh destination that offers you more than the usual. We also have dedicated teams in our key markets that are available to assist anyone considering hosting a meeting in South Africa.

HQ: What are South Africa’s main assets as an association congress destination? Nomasonto Ndlovu: In addition to offering excellent value for money, South Africa has state-of-the-art international convention centres located in the major cities and a professional industry that has a can-do attitude. Visitors witnessed the warmth of our people during the World Cup - this is our biggest asset. Last year’s IPL championship proved that South Africa can successfully deliver any big global event in a very short space of time and is capable of easily handling large numbers of visitors. The industry had four weeks’ notice that the destination would host this event… and it was delivered flawlessly. South Africa’s post-tours offerings are a great asset, allowing (and encouraging) meeting and conference delegates to stay for a few days after business is done to explore the leisure offerings of the destination. This wealth of different experiences aside, every leisure holiday in South Africa has two things in common with every other leisure holiday in South Africa: warm, friendly affable hosts and a splendid spirit of place.


> CONVENTION POSSIBILITIES

Cape Town International Convention Centre

CONVENTION CENTRES IN SOUTH AFRICA CONFERENCING IN THE CITIES IN SOUTH AFRICA, THE MAIN FOUR CITIES JOHANNESBURG, DURBAN, CAPE TOWN AND EAST LONDON - HAVE ALL THEIR STATEOF-THE-ART CONVENTION CENTRES, THE NEWEST ADDITION BEING IN EAST LONDON, WHICH WAS ACTUALLY JUST BEING GIVEN ITS FINAL TOUCHES WHEN I TOOK A TOUR OF IT LAST JULY. HERE IS A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THEM, IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER.

lery that extends the full length of the centre, linking basically everything in a cohesive way. With Cape Town International Airport located only a 20-minute drive away and with a brand-new shuttle bus service liaising with it, it’s easy to get to the centre. But it’s in the level of excellence and commitment to quality that it really stands out. For example, it’s the only convention centre in South Africa - and Africa - to have its work processes certified to the internationally acclaimed recognized systems standards ISO for Quality

Esmaré Steinhöfel, Head of Sales & Marketing, proudly gave me a personal tour of the facility. She said: ‘The centre’s design makes it possible for us to host all kinds of events, from major scientific congresses - we welcomed the International Federation of Diabetes in 2006 and the World Congress of Anesthesiologists in 2007 - to smaller meetings and events. We pride

CAPE TOWN INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION CENTRE, THE HARD FACTS

CAPE TOWN INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION CENTRE (CTICC) Over the past years, Cape Town International Convention Centre has gradually seen its reputation grow as a premier venue to hold association congresses. Opened in 2003, the centre is situated close to the CBD, working harbour and lively waterfront and is all about space, light, and room. Indeed, that was the main feature that stroke me upon entering the building: how it was built to make you work in a very refined, relaxed and nature-related atmosphere, with its imposing, two-storey gal-

Assurance, Environmental Management and Occupational Health and Safety.

Cape Town International Convention Centre

+ two raked seating auditoria, seating 620 and 1,500 people + state-of-the-art 11,400 m2 of exhibition space + a 2,000 m2 ballroom with panoramic views of the city and harbour + a Roof Terrace Room for up to 350 people + 33 breakaway rooms varying in size from 25 to 300 people

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> CONVENTION POSSIBILITIES

Premier Hotel Cascades, East London

ICC Durban

ourselves in the CTICC’s extraordinary adaptability.’ Besides two auditoria, seating 620 and 1,500 people and a fair number of breakout rooms (not to mention the amount of exhibition space available!), my personal favorite was definitely the Roof Terrace Room, which provides spectacular views of the nearby Table Mountain. I don’t think I have ever seen such a thing in a convention centre. How is one supposed to get any work done in such a beautiful setting?

EAST LONDON INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION CENTRE The first beachfront international convention for Southern Africa, the International Convention Centre East London (ICC EL) stands proud on the coastline, with magical views of the Indian Ocean. Only a 15-minute drive from the East London Airport, the Industrial Development Zone and all major industries, it offers a fresh Eastern Cape alternative to the business tourism sector, locally and internationally. Brand-new - there were still construction workers everywhere during my visit - the multi-functional venue is set to raise the profile of the province. From small meetings of 10 people to conferences of 1,400 delegates, anything is possible - there is even an auditorium seating 2,150 guests! Trilok Bhunjun, Resident Manager, whose job is to set the centre up and running, is

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ICC EL

THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION CENTRE EAST LONDON, THE HARD FACTS + 1 auditorium for up to 2,150 people + 3 conference rooms (the biggest accommodate 600 cocktail guests) + 3 breakaway rooms for up to 80 people + 1 exhibition hall of 1,900 m2 + 1,100 hotel rooms at walking distance, for all kinds of budget

confident that it will divinely complement what South Africa already has to offer to international associations. He stated: ‘With flights available from all major centres, the ICC provides a brand-new, interesting option to people who want to stay away from big cities. Besides, with its unique location and reduced carbon footprint, the centre is definitely a safe bet.’ I would add the fact that the venue incorporates the 4+/5-star Premier Hotel Cascades right next door and that there is all in all 1,100 hotel rooms at walking distance. You can hardly ask for more.

INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION CENTRE DURBAN (ICC DURBAN) The eldest and largest centre in South Africa, the International Convention Centre Durban is renowned for its high standard of service, having staged some of the most prestigious

conferences in the world, like the XIII International AIDS Conference, the World Lottery Association Congress, or the International Sociological Congress, just to name a few. I could stop here, as this pretty much sums it all, but I’ll be so blunt as to point out a few more features worth knowing about the centre. First and foremost, it offers supreme flexibility and versatility. The venue can basically deliver anything in terms of meeting any need, big or small, from international conventions to more intimate gatherings, for 3 up to 6,000 delegates. Quite uniquely, the centre also boasts a vast arena which is not only practical to host big, cultural events, but also massive association conventions. When I talked to Jeremy Hurter, Acting CEO, and Lyrene Zimmerman, Marketing and Sales Director, that’s what they immediately emphasized: ‘Over the years, we really have demonstrated our ability to host major as-

THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION CENTRE DURBAN, THE HARD FACTS + + + + + +

Raked auditorium: 1,800 delegates Plenary sessions for up to 6,000 people Banqueting for up to 3,000 guests 9,250 m2 of flat floor, column-free space 23 meeting rooms from 43 to 396 m2 3 outdoor courtyard venues


> CONVENTION POSSIBILITIES

Sandton Convention Centre

ICC Durban

sociation events in the most ideal conditions. That’s our way to make a direct contribution towards building capacity for Africa, and we’re really proud of that.’ It might be a detail, but I was personally impressed by a unique feature: a retractable raked-seating in Hall One, making it very easy to configure the floor any way you want to. Talk about flexibility! Another characteristic worth mentioning is the Exhibition Centre that’s adjacent to the ICC, which is capable of functioning independently or in unison with the convention centre. I was also amazed how easy it is to find one’s way around: it’s rarely the case in venues like this! Thus, the centre seems to be the epitome of convenience, being centrally positioned close to Durban’s bustling CBD, adjacent beaches, and both city and beachfront hotels - Hilton

SANDTON CONVENTION CENTRE, THE HARD FACTS + 22,000 m2 of meeting and exhibition space on four levels for up to 10,000 visitors + Room capacities: from a 10-seat function room to the Pavilion, for up to 4 500 cocktail guests + 15 hotels with 5,000 hotel rooms at walking distance, from 5-star to 2-star, accommodating all kinds of budgets

Banquet at Sandton Convention Centre

Durban, with 327 rooms, is literally next door. There the transition from business to pleasure appears effortless. Any more questions?

SANDTON CONVENTION CENTRE (JOHANNESBURG) On the nice, glossy leaflet I was handed out during the site inspection, it says: ‘Sandton Convention Centre - Standing tall in Africa’. When you enter the premises, it’s easy to understand why. The 12-floor building rises up almost to the sky, standing tall in the heart of Gauteng’s economic powerhouse, in Johan-

Sandton Convention Centre

smaller and more intimate break-away meeting rooms and galleries on its mezzanine levels. I personally grew fond of all the art everywhere to be found in the centre: with over a hundred pieces are on display on the public levels, the venue boasts a substantial collection of authentic Southern African art. Karin White, Head of Sales and Marketing, especially emphasized what she called the ‘diversity of the space’. She said: ‘Nowadays flexibility is of paramount importance in convention centres. We take pride in having

South Africa has state-of-the-art international convention centres located in the major cities and a professional industry that has a can-do attitude nesburg. With 22,000 m2 of meeting and exhibition space, anything seems possible: multiple events can be staged simultaneously on four levels and up to 10,000 visitors can be accommodated at any one time.

spaces that are very easy to manipulate. Whether it’s an international association conference for thousands or a private boardroom for a high-level meeting, we can cater to every taste out there.’

Again, it’s one of the first purpose-built convention centres where I could easily get around almost instantly, as 26 escalators on both sides of the centre ensure the flow of people in an open, spacious space. Design wise, Sandton Convention Centre has nothing to blush about, as it combines spectacular double and triple-volume use of interior space in its main and public areas, with

No wonder, then, that they hosted prestigious association events, like the 26th International Pediatric Association Congress of Pediatrics or the Submarine Networks World Africa 2010, and received numerous awards in the past. Add to that the newest Gautrain which takes you from the airport to the centre in 12 minutes… do you really think I should I go on?

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> CASE STUDIES

WHY SOUTH AFRICA? THREE CASE STUDIES SOUTH AFRICA CAN HOST EVENTS OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES IN THE VARIED CONFERENCE FACILITIES THE COUNTRY BOASTS. BELOW ARE THREE CASE STUDIES, AS EXAMPLES OF WHAT SA CAN DELIVER.

1. Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg

2. Cape Town International Convention Centre

3. International convention centre, Durban

1

ISES SOLAR WORLD CONGRESS Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg 11-14 October 2009 2,003 delegates

Held in October 2009, at Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, the ISES Solar World Congress attracted a total of 2003 people from 78 countries in over four days. This number comprised 734 participants including delegates, exhibitors and media, 191 students and 1,078 trade visitors An exhibition space was added to accommodate the overwhelming interest from the industry to exhibit at the Renewable Energy Expo. The main theme of the event was ‘Renewable Energy - Shaping Our Future’. The sustainable development had been defined as ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. It calls for improving the quality of life for the entire world’s people without exploiting and depleting the earth of its natural resources. The topics discussed during the congress addressed the ability to conserve these resources and to find innovative ways to produce energy for generations to come. In addition, the aims of Young SESSA (Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa) were presented, ie to engage with students and high school scholars that are involved in projects in sustainable energy, such as environmental studies, renewable energy technology, and environmental law. Sandton Convention Centre was an ideal choice due to its history of hosting major international events successfully, for its ability to meet the event venue specifications and requirements and for its central location in close proximity to the first port of entry for most international delegates. The location of suitable accommodation establishments in close proximity to SCC as well as that of Johannesburg in relation to other tourism destinations in South and Southern Africa were contributing factors for the awarding of the bid.

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> CASE STUDIES

Delegates enjoyed a variety of things before or after the event. This included attractions in Southern Africa, like Victoria Falls or Zimbabwe Ruins, and in South Africa, ie Kruger National Park, Drakensberg Escarpment, Durban, Cape Town and the Garden Route. During the congress, delegates visited more local attractions, including, Lesedi Cultural Village, the Cradle of Humankind, various flea markets in the city and Soweto. Tours of Pretoria, Sun City and Pilanesberg Nature Reserve were also organized. The Gala Dinner was hosted at Victory Theatre where delegates watched the internationally acclaimed South African musical Umoja.

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2009 FIGO WORLD CONGRESS Cape Town International Convention Centre 4-9 October 2009 6,500 delegates

Held last October in Cape Town, the 2009 International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) World Congress took place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Organized every three years and covering broad aspects of Women’s Health, it was attended by 6,500 delegates, plus 850 accompanying persons and there were approximately 700 exhibitors. The FIGO World Congress is built around science and its advancement, and an informative science-based programme was developed by Dr Tom Baskett from Canada. Each congress day included plenary sessions, keynote lectures, seminars and free communications sessions. Key areas of interest were the focus of plenary sessions, while seminars featured leading experts addressing different aspects of a specific topic. Young scientists were also encouraged to present their work. Marta Collins, FIGO Events and Meetings Manager, explains: ‘Cape Town was one of the cities of Africa which provided the bid to host the Congress. South Africa’s proposal was by far the most cost effective. Excellent conference facilities and a wide range of hotels, as

well as supportive local society also helped with the decision. Cape Town is an attractive destination from a delegate point of view, when it comes to pre- and post- Congress tours and social events. The Executive Board was also supportive of the bid to bring the Congress to South Africa for the very first time. CTICC was the only venue that could host a big international Congress such as ours. Their state-of-the-art facilities and equipment also made it a preferable location in South Africa.’ Cape Town Convention Bureau assisted in arranging and securing accommodation for the delegates under auspices of the Housing Bureau. They also helped the association and the local conference organiser in promotion of the Congress (banners, marketing material etc.). Collins states: ‘CTICC was flexible and approachable from the start of our planning. They were readily available to meet whenever our Organising Committee visited Cape Town in the build up to the Congress and handled our event well.’ Delegates were offered a variety of options to discover the city and the province. Among many other things, let’s mention the township, winelands or Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope tours, as well as many possibilities further away like the outings to Kruger Park, Madikwe Game Reserve or Pilanesberg Sun City.

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57th SESSION OF THE INTERNATIONAL STATISTICAL INSTITUTE

International Convention Centre, Durban 16-22 August 2009 2,500 delegates The International Statistical Institute (ISI) is one of the oldest international scientific associations in the world: it seeks to develop and improve statistical methods and their application through the promotion of international activity and co-operation. ISI Sessions are conducted on a two yearly cycle, the 57th Session being the inaugural Session held in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Statistics South Africa secured the International Convention Centre, Durban (ICCD) as a conference venue. As the event called for 30 simultaneous breakaway rooms, venues for large social functions, administration offices, a 45 stand exhibition, 50 computer internet stations, 200 poster boards and a large registration area, the whole of the ICC, Durban plus the ICC Exhibition Centre were booked. In order to link the venues, Walnut Road was closed and a marquee erected to feed delegates and to enable a safe walkway between the two venues. An extensive social programme was developed, much of which accommodated all delegates in a single venue. This included a performance by The Soweto Gospel Choir at the opening ceremony, South African musical icon Yvonne Chaka-Chaka provided the entertainment at a ‘Women In Stats’ dinner, and Richard Cock conducted The Kwazulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra and The Zip-Zap circus at the Gala Dinner. The social programme was designed to not only provide networking opportunities for delegates, but to expose them to the wonderful culture and hospitality that South Africa has to offer. In addition, a huge range of pre- and postconference tours, from luxury camps to affordable overland options, a variety of exciting day trips in and around Durban were arranged. The RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology supplied by Conference Communications was a huge success and impressed both delegates and the client. This technology not only enabled the conference organisers to track the delegates, it also provided the delegates with a huge ‘wow’ factor. Statistics SA was happy with the final delegate count, the registration, the social events and the huge technological infrastructure. The food, the transport and the audiovisual were world class, and all delegates were happy. This proved to be an extremely successful conference for both the venue and client.

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© CC Africa

> IN & AROUND

IN & AROUND IN SOUTH AFRICA AN ARRAY OF POSSIBILITIES IT’S ONE OF THE LONG-STAND CLICHÉS ABOUT SOUTH AFRICA, BUT IT’S DEFINITELY TRUE. SO MUCH OF WHAT THE COUNTRY HAS TO OFFER IS ALL ABOUT WILDLIFE, LANDSCAPES, FRIENDLY PEOPLE, OUTDOOR ADVENTURE, CULTURE AND HISTORY. WHETHER IT BE IN THE CITIES WITH ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES OF ENTERTAINMENT OR IN THE COUNTRY FOR THOSE SUPER FAMOUS GAME DRIVES, YOUR OPTIONS FOR AN OFF-SITE CONFERENCE OR A PRE- OR A POST-CONGRESS TOUR ARE VARIED LIKE YOU WOULDN’T SUSPECT. Kwandwe Ecca Lodge

IN THE CITY In the eight days at I traveled around South Africa, I got to see four cities: Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town and East London. They all have unique characteristics and offer specific experiences for a conference delegate. With a little bit more than 3 million people, Johannesburg is the economic, ‘serious’ hub of South Africa, and increasingly for the rest of Africa. There are many things that are unique to Johannesburg: it features a distinct street entrepreneurship, mine dumps can been seen everywhere, like a reminder of the city’s legacy of gold mining and history is everywhere to be found, whether it be in Soweto of course, the Apartheid or the Hector Pieterson Museums, which I was lucky to visit and which have rooms that can be hired out for private events. The city is also most likely the world’s largest man-made urban forest and certainly one of the greenest in the world, considering that the natural landscape is savannah. One of South Africa’s top holiday destinations, Durban is all about exploring local townships, experiencing Zulu culture, sun tanning, shopping at a typical street market

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or even surfing at one the city’s many beautiful beaches. With a road, rail and communications infrastructure that has been greatly improved thanks to the World Cup, it’s a friendly, quite laidback city with a rich cultural diversity. My personal highlights were definitely the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium, which has meeting rooms for up to 500 people, the Oyster Box, a beachfront hotel with an abundance of colonial charm and breathtaking seaside setting where you can sit 120 guest for a special evening, or the Suncoast Hotel & Towers with its lovely interior design and beautiful seaviews. A city that still manages to retain some of its old-fashioned values blended with a flavour of laidback charm, East London is the gateway to the wild coast and the sunshine coast and the only river port in South Africa. With its long, white stretches of sandy beach - talk about swimming, sailing, water-skiing, boardsailing and boating there! - it’s also known as the Buffalo City, boasting several well-preserved examples of 19th-century architecture. If you need a place for a special gala dinner, the East London Rugby Stadium could do the trick, while a keynote speaker talking about how South Africa’s rich cultural history holds

many lessons that can be applied to marketing or strategic planning can be hired out! Part of the BestCities Global Alliance, a global network that delivers the best in professional practices and services to association planners, Cape Town is a bit like the French Riviera of South Africa, where business and pleasure are closely intertwined. Set in an amphitheatre of spectacular mountains, it’s located down south, on a peninsula fringed with pristine beaches, the gateway to the picturesque wine route and the Cape of Good Hope. There I quickly became a fan of the city’s historic dockland, with its many restaurants and entertainment possibilities, while its Two Oceans Aquarium, Robben Island or the District 6 Museum are definitely must-sees. In terms of conferences, let me mention the beautiful Spier Wine Estate with its many meeting spaces, its one-of-a-kind outside amphitheatre seating up to 200 people, and its serious commitment to sustainable business practices and investment in South African arts and culture.

IN THE BUSH A trip to South Africa wouldn’t be complete without two or three days in a game reserve. I was lucky enough to discover two of them:


> IN & AROUND

Whether it be in the cities with endless possibilities of entertainment or in the country for those super famous game drives, your options for an off-site conference or a preor a post-congress tour are varied like you wouldn’t suspect

CONVENTION BUREAUS: HERE TO HELP In addition to South African Tourism, two local convention bureaus can help you organize your event. Cape Town & Western Cape Convention Bureau provides destination expertise and support to associations: since its inception in 2004, it has achieved great success, with numerous successful conferences hosted in the city and in the province. The Durban KwaZulu-Natal Convention Bureau does pretty much the same thing, but has just been launched. Let’s wish them the same success! Drumming in Gold Restaurant

Kwandwe, about an hour from East London inland, and Shamwari, a little further south.

fering and protect threatened species in the wild, is worth a visit.

Situated at the heart of the malaria-free Eastern Cape province, Kwandwe is within easy reach of South Africa’s spectacular coastline. It consists of 22,000 hectares of a hauntingly beautiful but previously neglected part of the African continent where the area’s natural wildlife has been painstakingly restored. A conservation victory, Kwandwe is home to thousands of animals, including lion, black and white rhino, buffalo, elephant and leopard, Africa’s famous Big Five. As far as accommodation is concerned, the lodges where you can stay are havens of peace and luxury. Just take my word for it!

Last but not least is the one or two-day trip you can take along the coast, right outside Cape Town southward. The area is indeed home to some of the city’s best attractions, beaches, restaurants and places to stay. Some of my favourite attractions included Cape Point, Boulders Beach penguins and some fantastic beaches for watersports. For the wine experts, you can drive a little further on the oldest wine route in South Africa, stretching along picturesque historic towns and villages, like Stellenbosch or Franschhoek which are definitely worth a détour.

In the same line of idea, between Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown lies Shamwari, an even bigger reserve where it all began. Besides boasting five eco-systems enabling the support of many forms of plant, animal and bird life, luxury safari accommodation is offered in 7 different lodges - the original being Long Lee Manor which even has small conference facilities catering from six people boardroom style and up to 35 people theatre style! Shamwari is all about conserving a vanishing way of life: the Born Free Foundation itself, a wildlife charity working throughout the world to stop individual wild animal suf-

Moses Mabhida Stadium

Southern Sun Suncoast Hotel & Towers

Oyser Box

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South Africa Supplement  

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