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An insight from the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry


Visitors at the bronze statue of Nelson Mandela in Bloemfontein

AFRICA S outh Africa’s natural beauty and cultural fascination is well-documented, and rightly so. The tumultuous apartheid period came to an end in the 1990s, and since then the country has opened itself to the world both in terms of leisure and business tourism. Major cities and MICE hubs are spread far and wide, some being thousands of miles from key settlements in other African countries. Another nuance of South Africa’s formation is the fact it has not one, but three recognised capitals – Pretoria is home to the country’s executive, Cape Town its legislature and Bloemfontein the judiciary. Such is the nation’s growing standing on the global stage, it is one of few countries to host multiple sporting world cups. In 2010 it became the first African host of the FIFA World Cup, while it has also hosted the Rugby Union World Cup (1995) and

As well as being famed as a place of natural beauty, South Africa has plenty to offer to the realm of business travel and MICE tourism


Writer: Tom Wadlow Project Manager: Joe Palliser in 2003 staged the vast majority of matches in the ICC Cricket World Cup. South Africa also comes into its own in terms of its hugely varied and extraordinary terrain. From the enormous Blyde River Canyon to Table Mountain and dramatic coastal roads to the Karoo and Kalahari deserts, this is an outdoor lover’s paradise, the perfect backdrop for businesses to host meetings, events and conferences. Throw in a largely comfortable temperate climate that sees plenty of sunshine, and you will find the complete tourist package.

Capitals: Pretoria, Cape Town, Bloemfontein Number of official languages: 11 Area: 1,220,813 km2 Population (2017): 56,875,000 GDP (2017): $349.4 billion Currency: Rand (R) Time zone: South Africa Standard Time (GMT+2) Dialling code: +27 Internet TLD: .za Climate: Temperate

A WORLD The first University built in the heart of Johannesburg, home to over 75 multipurpose sports facilities and conference venues, under the Wits Sport banner, within a 400 acre area spanning across Braamfontein and Parktown The Wits Sport Conference Centre and Venue Hire is the first conference centre aligned to a South African university to offer a wide and diverse range of services outside the core academic programme, that supplements and enhances the learning experience in collaboration with corporate and sporting South Africa. Truly a place where academics, sport and business meet Conferences, Dinners, Meetings, Awards, Galas, Banqueting, Weddings Home to leading sporting facilities in a single expanse:

01 State of the artHockey astro

02 On campus Futsal courts

02 Olympic sized, heated swimming pools

03 Cricket stadia



3000+ seater stadia


Wits is the only official and first elite athlete friendly university in South Africa. Other universities have this in practice, Wits has it as part of policy. The Wits Sport Conference Centre and Venue facilties can host up to 5000 guests, with events ranging from corporate events and family days to sports tournaments and international games, from teambuilding to skills development, coaching coaches, training teams, mentoring athletes, weddings, gala dinners, symposia and expos

Sports tournaments, League matches, Training & Conditioning, Coaching & Mentoring workshops

Wits is the first and only South African University in partnership with Gauteng Health in the hosting of the Annual World Heart Day Fun Run

OF FIRSTS #WIRSTS Bidvest Wits is the first and only university based football team to have won the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL) Wits is the first South African University to host a FIH Hockey World League event (Semi-Finals 2017) Wits is the first and only South African University to host the BRICS Games Wits hosted over 5000 students for the first time, including sports, catering and accommodation during the SA Schools Summer Games in 2018

Team building, Wellness events, Family fun days, Signature Runs/Walks & Community days

06 Tennis courts

07 Conference rooms

08 Netball fields



Cocktail areas

Volleyball court

13 Football fields

Raikes Road (cnr Enoch Sontoga road) Sturrock Park - West campus +2711 717 9406/8/9

Business strategy, Summits, Symposia, Expos and Trade shows



The Business End

Sandton Convention Centre


andton Convention Centre (SCC) stands tall in Africa as a world-class eight-storey venue, featuring Afro-chic décor and 22,000 square metres of flexible multipurpose spaces and venues for any event, large or small. The venue is in the heart of Sandton, ideally located in Johannesburg’s vibrant financial and commercial hub, within walking distance of Sandton Sun hotel and its San Restaurant and popular sundowner spot, San Deck Bar & Restaurant. The InterContinental Johannesburg Sandton Towers and Sandton City Garden Court, as well as upmarket shopping centres, restaurants and entertainment also situated in the same precinct. Every year, SCC is host to a wide range of international and local conferences, expos, confexes, summits, and other business and trade events, as well as an exciting array of consumer events, such as Arnold Classic Sport Festival, Design Joburg, Joy of Jazz, WineX, Whisky & Gin Live, and many more.

THE TOURIST TRADE is gathering increasing momentum as South Africa seeks to make the most out of its formidable attractions. In 2017, one in every 22 employed people in South Africa were working in the tourism sector, totalling 722,013 individuals, around 4.5 percent of the 16.2 million people making up the national workforce. The tourism sector contributed 2.8 percent (or R130 billion) to South Africa’s GDP in 2017, making it larger than the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry. According to Statistics South Africa, in 2017 visitors sent over half a million rand every minute, amounting to R277 billion for the entire year, the split being 56 percent domestic spend and 44 percent international. 6 | Outlook Travel magazine

In terms of numbers arriving, 2018 saw 16.44 million visitors arrive in the country – this represents a steady rise over the past six years, the figure for 2012 being 14.16 million. The upward trajectory is set continue for the next few years according to the latest predictions from research organisation Statista, which forecasts some 19.6 million tourists to visit South Africa in 2023. Away from tourism, foreign trade is another key contributor to the nation’s income, with China, the USA, Germany and Namibia alone accounting for more than a quarter of exports. Key export products include precious metals, agricultural goods and military equipment, while South Africa’s major imports include chemicals and motor vehicles.

The elegant venue can host up to 10,0000 people at any one time in a variety of exhibition and conference venues. Every event can be tailormade to suit specific requirements, with an excellent range of services, amenities and facilities to cover all needs, whether for clients, organisers, exhibitors, or visitors. SCC is renowned for its food and beverage services and wide range of menu options designed to suit any occasion, event and dietary requirement, and all palates. SCC offers easy access to Gautrain Sandton Station, OR Tambo International Airport, and other key destinations, and is conveniently located for travellers to add leisure days onto their visits to explore the many tourism offerings in the city, Gauteng province, and the country.

T +27 (0)11 779 0000 E


Southern African Association for the Conference Industry becoming less complicated. Many African countries require a link in the Middle East or Europe in order to then get to South Africa – this change will certainly aid in economic growth. AfO: Why, in your opinion, should someone visit South Africa? KR: It is the home of mankind, the real roots of the human race. One comes to South Africa and there is a spiritual connection with the land, along with its natural beauty, friendly people and sophisticated infrastructure.

Eastern Cape

F O U N D E D I N 1 9 8 7 by Nick Stathakis and Keith McCusker, the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry, better known as SAACI, is a governing body mandated to improve the standards in conference facilities, meeting venues and allied services within South Africa and the wider region. It is a thought leadership pioneer in the MICE tourism space, hosting numerous events and conducting several projects (such as Project RISE) to raise the profile of southern Africa as a destination for business travel. Having spoken with the organisation in 2018, here we catch up with Kim Roberts, Vice-Chairperson of SAACI, to get the latest insight on South African tourism, as well as some detail on what SAACI has planned for the year ahead. Africa Outlook (AfO): How would you say South Africa has developed recently as a business travel hub and what are the key reasons behind its growing appeal? Kim Roberts (KR): South Africa has 8 | Outlook Travel magazine

worked really hard on its exposure to the international marketplace. The increase of international conventions coming into South Africa, as a result of stronger market positioning, has allowed for more feet on our shores. The unique experiences on offer in South Africa, as well as the way we as a nation touch the hearts of those that visit these shores, almost always result in return business for both the business events and leisure sectors. Increased accessibility into South Africa has improved with new airline routes being added. There is so much opportunity within Africa and we look forward to seeing those routes


AfO: Are there any specific attractions, landmarks or places to eat and drink that you would recommend? KR: I would have to say a visit to Maropeng. If I was a tour guide and could share my favourite places, the itinerary would cover a self-drive to Mpumalanga and include the Kruger National Park, the Eastern Cape wild shoreline, our winelands and the city of Cape Town. Not to forget that sunrise walk to the top of Lions Head. With regards to eating and drinking, we have numerous fabulous restaurants and local beverages to

Kruger National Park


in their businesses, helping the tourism industry to grow. AfO: How do you see the country developing as a business travel hub over the next year to two years? KR: With our convention bureaus in place we continue to see growth in this space. These entities are highly focused on the Tourism Ministry’s mandate to drive economic growth and with that we are fortunate to see the growing numbers in events and expos. There are always new facilities joining the South African meetings landscape. These properties will bring new and exciting spaces for delegates to enjoy.

“If I were a tour guide and could share my favourite places, the itinerary would cover a self-drive to Mpumalanga and include the Kruger National Park, the Eastern Cape wild shoreline, our winelands and the city of Cape Town” Cape Town

enjoy, I would just say try something completely local or authentic, anywhere in South Africa.

experienced visitors to South Africa, a self-drive option could make for the trip of a lifetime.

AfO: What are the best ways of getting around the country? KR: As a first-time visitor we would encourage a registered guide to assist with your planning and even travel if possible. The local airlines are well established and can easily meet your destination needs. Gauteng has a world class rail infrastructure in the Gautrain, to get you into the City of Gold. There are options for taxis and buses, and we would just advise that they belong to recognised bodies. For

AfO: What trends are transforming the tourism industry in South Africa at present? How are you responding to these trends? KR: Three I would identify are technology, sustainability and a focus on service excellence. Our association stays abreast of what is happening internationally – and what works in South Africa – and shares this with members on a number of platforms. They apply this

AfO: Are there any plans or projects in the pipeline that you wish to highlight? KR: We are busy with the roll out of the RISE project, a skills development programme to facilitate entry for new suppliers into the business events industry. Having just had our 2019 congress, that had a very strong learning programme, we are already starting to work on 2020’s content and the framework of this event, to ensure we deliver as the lead in the conference industry. Also, in the next three months, we will be holding a strategic meeting to focus on where and what our next priorities will be. AfO: Are you optimistic about the future of the tourism industry in South Africa? KR: Yes, you have to be. As someone recently shared with me, what you visualise you actualise. Outlook Travel magazine | 9


In Focus Convention centres in South Africa SOUTH AFRICA IS home to some of the region’s most impressive conferencing and event hosting facilities. In the past the country has hosted global landmark events such as the 2011 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17) in Durban. In 2016, the same city hosted the 21st AIDS Conference at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre, a venue which housed 18,000 delegates from 183 countries. Durban is not the only major city home to world-class exhibition facilities, however. Among the other highly rated venues are Sandton Convention Centre (Johannesburg), Tshwane Events Centre, East London

Sandton Convention Centre

10 | Outlook Travel magazine

International Convention Centre, Cape Town International Convention Centre and CSIR International Convention Centre (Pretoria), to name but a few. As well as SAACI, an important organisation helping to promote and assist convention centres and event organisers is the South Africa National Convention Centre (SANCB). A one-stop solution for independent information and assistance, giving neutral advice on all aspects of hosting and organising any business event in South Africa, one of SANCB’s major roles is to help venues bid and prepare for hosting conventions. In 2015, for example, South Africa hosted 140 international meetings and conferences at its various convention centres and event venues, attracting around 80,000 delegates and generating more than R1 billion in economic impact.


Outlook Recommends “Black-maned lions framed against Kalahari dunes; powdery beaches lapped by two oceans; star-studded desert skies; jagged, lush mountains – this truly is a country of astounding diversity” – Lonely Planet


Wits University


Based in Johannesburg, Wits University has developed a reputation for educational excellence, with more than 85 percent of its research published in accredited international journals. The university offers several courses in the realm of tourism and hospitality and is an important feeder to many businesses operating in the MICE space. Further, the site is home to several events and conferencing venues, including the Great Hall, Linder Auditorium, Wits Club, Wits Theatre, WitsSport Venues, and the Professional Development Hub. The Great Hall in particular is a landmark venue, an iconic building on campus able to seat up to 1,035 people.


Sandton Convention Centre Situated in northern Johannesburg in the city’s financial district, Sandton Convention Centre is a leading multiuse events space provider. With 22,000 square metres of flexible event space, contemporary Afro-chic décor and technologically advanced facilities, the SCC is perfectly suited to hosting your event, whether it is a 10-person meeting or cocktail reception for 4,500 guests.

Durban ICC Cape Town International Convention Centre

Indaba Hotel, Spa & Conference Centre Lying just north of Sandton, the Indaba Hotel, Spa & Conference Centre provides a perfect blend of business functionality and a warm and relaxed atmosphere. The hotel features an impressive selection of 24 multipurpose conference venues that can accommodate up to 2,000 delegates, all set just 15 kilometres from Lanseria International Airport and within easy reach of OR Tambo.

Umlilo Lodge, St Lucia The Oyster Box Ghost Mountain Inn


Kruger National Park


Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Mo-Zam-Bik Linksfield

Augrabies Falls National Park Lucky Bean Urbanologi Momo Baohaus 12 | Outlook Travel magazine


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Outlook Travel magazine | 13


Transport Links

14 | Outlook Travel magazine

settlements of Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Durban and onto the likes of Mozambique present an alternative way of getting around, with car hire perhaps the obvious and most flexible option. Regionally, South Africa offers some tremendous cycling opportunities. Hills, views and campsites are in abundance, while bikes can be taken PHOTO: PASCAL KOBEH

S O U T H A F R I C A I S home to a number of budget airlines such as CemAir, Kulula, Mango and FlySafair that serve most domestic routes at competitive prices. It is an easy way of getting from one major destination to another, especially given the long distances between some of the major cities. Shosholoza Meyl offers regular train services, including a popular overnight journey between Cape Town and Johannesburg that allows passengers to take in the vastness of the country’s landscapes. Travel by boat between the coastal

onto most trains. Local bus networks are extensive and usually cheap to use. In terms of international air travel, OR Tambo near Johannesburg is the major hub, with other significant airports to be found in Cape Town and Durban. National carrier South African Airways operates an extensive network of long-haul flights to destinations all over the world.


Landmark Attractions



“A lot of people do the hike as an early-morning constitutional, and it’s a local ritual to hike up and watch the sun go down on a fullmoon night. The moonlight helps the walk back down, although you should always bring a torch (flashlight) and go with company” – Lonely Planet

CASTLE OF GOOD HOPE “Opened in 1679, the castle is the oldest surviving building in South Africa and has been the centre of civilian, political and military life at the Cape and the nation since” –


“The Blyde River Canyon Reserve extends along the Blyde River Canyon’s winding path, which at every turn offers more and more impressive views over sheer edges dropping 800 metres into the riverbed” – Mpumalanga Tourism & Parks Agency




“Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is acclaimed as one of the great botanic gardens of the world. Few gardens can match the sheer grandeur of the setting of Kirstenbosch, against the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain” – South African National Biodiversity Institute

Outlook Travel magazine | 15 Tel: +44 (0) 1603 959 676 Tel: +44 (0) 1603 959 668 Tel: +44 (0) 1603 959 682 Tel: +44 (0) 1603 959 669 w w w. o u t l o o k t r a ve l m a g . c o m

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South Africa 2019 Business Travel Guide  

South Africa 2019 Business Travel Guide - Africa Outlook - Issue 75

South Africa 2019 Business Travel Guide  

South Africa 2019 Business Travel Guide - Africa Outlook - Issue 75