South Africa has climbed from 37th to 34th in the International Congress and Convention Associations’ (ICCA’s) latest ranking of business tourism destinations worldwide, with Cape Town and Durban being rated Africa’s top two cities for meetings and events.
The ICCA’s 2013 rankings, released last week, confirm South Africa’s position as the top business events destination on the continent, followed by Kenya and Morocco. In the African cities ranking, Cape Town and Durban were followed by Nairobi in third place, while Stellenbosch outside Cape Town was placed 10th.
Internationally, Cape Town came in at 52nd (behind Melbourne at 44th and Vancouver at 38th), while Durban jumped a massive 60 places to rank 97th in the world.
“Before 1994, the first year of our democracy, South Africa hosted 12 international association conferences,” SA Tourism CEO Thulani Nzima said in a statement on Monday. “Fast forward to 2013, and we have grown this number to 118 ICCA recognised meetings.
“We have also hosted 1 038 international association conferences that met the ICCA’s criteria since 1994, and remain ranked under the top 11 long haul destinations globally.”
Major international events successfully hosted by South Africa include the International Aids Conference in 2000, the 123rd Session of the International Olympic Organising Committee in 2011, the World Congress on Intensive and Critical Care Medicine in 2013, and the One Young World Conference in 2013.
An estimated 20 000 delegates will converge on Durban in 2016 when the country hosts the International Aids Conference for the second time.
The meetings and conferences hosted by South Africa “have not only demonstrated the country’s world-class infrastructure and capabilities, but have also showcased a united industry and a committed government, working hard, passionately and together to take this industry forward,” Nzima said.
He added that South Africa’s achievement was a win for the continent as a whole.
“We need to collaborate and unite with our counterparts on the continent if we want to be a destination to be reckoned with on the business events front. The business events markets is vast and varied. There is enough for everyone – but it will take collaboration, partnership and understanding that we are working to unleash the potential of business events for the benefit of the continent, not just our country.”