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The meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions industry will be at Meetings Africa, the showcase of the offerings in southern Africa.
THE mix of business and tourism will come under the spotlight at Meetings Africa, once again to be hosted at the Sandton Convention Centre. This year it will run from 28 February to 1 March, and is set to be bigger and better than before.

Meetings Africa is all aboutMeetings Africa is all about business matchmakingMeetings Africa is the continent’s biggest business tourism trade show, attracting exhibitors and buyers from all over the world. The Meetings Africa website explains: “[It] is South African Tourism’s marketing platform which showcases the range of services and products in southern Africa’s meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) industry to both local and international buyers.”

This year the convention is expected to trump the previous attendance record. In 2011, there were 3 353 attendees, with 123 international buyers; this year will 200 international buyers are expected.

Innovative new programmes and systems have been introduced to assist attendees and make their experience more productive. An initiative first used at Meetings Africa 2011 will be in force again: the business matchmaking system allows visitors to set up and plan their meetings in advance.

All participants are profiled according to company profile and business category. Attendees are able to view all people going to the show and request meetings for the duration of the trade show.

Business matchmaking
“Ensuring that the right exhibitors meet the right buyers is critical to the success of Meetings Africa,” said the global manager of business tourism at South African Tourism, Nomasonto Ndlovu. “The business matchmaking system is an excellent tool to ensure that exhibitors get the return on investment they deserve from Meetings Africa.”

A number of events and presentations have been placed on the bill to give participants the opportunity to fit in as much as they can in the three-day trade show. A lifestyle golf and safari weekend from 24 to 26 February will offer unique networking opportunities by getting participants out of the boardroom and on to the golf course at the Legend Golf and Safari Resort.

An association lekgotla, previously called the association conference, will take place on 28 and 29 February. It is designed to empower South African associations by promoting discussion of issues that affect them; networking with international associations and suppliers; and understanding the role that associations play in the economy.

A variety of presentations will also be given over the three days, ranging from reporting on event sustainability on 28 February to a debate and panel discussion on the Brics emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – on 29 February.

Sustainability and greening is high on the agenda at this year’s show, especially for the Johannesburg Tourism Company (JTC), which will be an exhibitor. The focus will mainly be on the entity’s greening credentials.

“Sustainability and event greening remain top of mind in the business tourism industry worldwide,” said the company’s acting chief executive officer, Phelisa Mangcu. “While many of our industry partners in Johannesburg have far-reaching and impressive sustainable practices in place, as South Africa’s most vibrant city – and home to Meetings Africa – the City is proud of its green credentials.”

Green credentials
Joburg’s green credentials include being the only South African city that is a member of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. C40 is a network of cities dedicated to finding local solutions that will address climate change globally.

Joburg also has an above-average performance on the African green cities index, the results of which were published in November 2011 by Siemens and the Economist Intelligence Unit. Joburg performs particularly well in land use, energy and carbon dioxide emissions, transport, air quality and environmental governance.

Meetings Africa will serve as a platform to allow the JTC to connect and engage with businesses on these matters and to forge new and lasting partnerships. This is, after all, what the trade show is all about.

It will run from 28 February to 1 March at the Sandton Convention Centre, which is located on Maude Street in Sandown, Sandton.

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