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The next step is to lobby to become the permanent home of the business tourism tradeshow, says the head of the Johannesburg Tourism Company, who is excited about its success.
THE business part of Meetings Africa ends today, and then it is time for pleasure, with a host of leisure activities lined up for the rest of the week by the Johannesburg Tourism Company (JTC).

 

Meetings Africa a huge success, says JTC CEO Lindiwe KweleMeetings Africa a huge success, says JTC CEO Lindiwe KweleIt has been a particularly successful convention, with the head of the JTC, Lindiwe Kwele, saying: “We want to be the home of Meetings Africa.”
 

The next big step will be for the company to secure the rights to host Meetings Africa permanently. This would allow it to promote the Joburg brand and entrench as a mecca for business and leisure tourists.

The three-day tradeshow ends on 23 February with a host of leisurely activities planned for the entire week.

Kwele, the chief executive of Joburg’s tourism entity, says this year’s Meetings Africa was a major success. The company had wooed, among others, about five influential delegates who would ensure that between 2012 and 2015 Joburg hosts about 100 000 visitors.

She says they are very excited. “I think we really stepped up the game as the hosts of this year’s Meetings Africa, but more importantly [was] the kind of leads that we generated.”

Meetings Africa is the only business tourism tradeshow in Africa. The exhibition promotes the country and the continent through showcasing its finest and world-class conference and event venues, incentive travel destinations and various industry support services.

The tradeshow provides a platform for business tourism stakeholders, international buyers, tourism authorities, conference venues, hotels and accommodation providers, event management specialists, transportation companies and the like to network and market their brands and countries.

Tourism destination
Kwele says the event has helped to boost Joburg’s status as Africa’s leading business and leisure attraction of choice. “Our recognition as a vibrant tourism destination and taking people through the recent developments in the inner city, showcasing the other side of Joburg, have been our highlights.”

 

The Joburg stand voted the best large standThe Joburg stand: voted the best large stand at Meetings AfricaThe convention has also helped to dispel myths and stereotypes about Joburg being a crime and grime infested, no-go area. Since the beginning of the tradeshow, Kwele says, visitors have not stopped showering Joburg with compliments. “They have really seen the change. I think the World Cup has done wonders for us in terms of infrastructural upgrades and changing perceptions.”
 

This year’s Meetings Africa attracted a lot of international buyers and media.

“We want to be the home of Meetings Africa … Obviously it requires a lot of investment, but I am hoping our political heads will rally behind us in ensuring that we use this event as a catalyst for considerable growth and building the Joburg brand because we are on an upward impetus,” she explains.

“We are very excited.”

The Joburg stand was named the best large stand at the exhibition. “Again it is about Joburg, it’s about that chic, about that sophistication, and it’s about size so it’s nice that people recognise the hard work we put up,” says Kwele.

She is looking forward to the golf day networking session on 24 February, which will be about showcasing Joburg’s sporting, lifestyle and entertainment destinations. “We want our visitors to experience both the business side and the relaxation side because we really believe that we have got so much to offer in Joburg. We want them to experience it instead of us just telling them.”

Meetings Africa aims to promote South Africa as an attractive, viable and world-class meetings destination. It opened on Monday, 21 February.

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