The South Africa National Convention Bureau briefed the Committee on the number of bids secured for South Africa. The Convention Bureau was a business unit of SA Tourism. The Committee was given a brief summary of the Convention Bureau’s Business Plan 2012/13. Its annual targets were to activate all Convention Bureau unit services including bid support, site inspections, delegate boosting activities and on site event services. Some of the deliverables identified was the approval and signoff of the Convention Bureau Strategy which was approved by the SA Tourism Board on the 29 May 2012. Another deliverable was that the Convention Bureau should be fully operational which it was in that all positions had been filled as planned.
According to the International Congress and Convention Association database South Africa was still the top ranked association congress destination in Africa and the Middle East. South Africa hosted 106 international association conferences in 2012. The economic value was R662m, the number of delegates was 52 587 and the number of conference days was 414. South Africa still held the number one position in Africa and five of South Africa’s cities were ranked in the top ten on the continent.
Over the next four years South Africa had secured 88 international association meetings to be staged between 2013 and 2017. The estimated economic impact was R2.6bn over the period and the estimated number of delegates to attend was 198 000.
The Convention Bureau also participated in international trade fairs. In total 150 leads had been generated and 60 of these were hot leads which had the potential of being converted into confirmed business within two years.
The Committee was given insight into the Convention Bureau’s operational tools and systems. There was a Business Events Coordinating Council which coordinated those provinces which had provincial convention bureaus such as Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. There was also a South Africa National Convention Bureau Sub Committee which coordinated places like Nelson Mandela Bay, Kimberley, and the Northern Cape Province etc.
There was furthermore a subvention policy and bidding policies. The subvention policy had been approved by the Convention Bureau’s Board and had strict criteria. The Convention Bureau required setting up a subvention fund if it wished to remain competitive. At least R36m would be needed for the fund.
The Committee showed interest as to how the activities of the Convention Bureau tied in with domestic tourism. The Committee further asked whether the Convention Bureau was involved in the promotion of sports events. The response was that the Convention Bureau did not promote sports events as the financial implications were too huge. The Committee undertook to interact with the parliamentary committees and departments responsible for sports and recreation and arts and culture to discuss the issue as it impacted hugely on tourism.
Members were concerned whether it was a common occurrence as it was in leisure tourism for cities, provinces and even SA Tourism to compete with one another at international events.
Another concern was that it would seem that most meetings and conventions were held in major cities like Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. What about other provinces?
The Chairperson asked whether change was taking place and if so was resources allocated to this. Was there capacity? What were the challenges and what were future plans to address challenges. He asked whether the South African National Convention Bureau received funding only from national government or was funding received from cities as well given that they were also benefiting from the work of the Convention Bureau. It was common knowledge that often cities competed with one another on international stages. What was the experience of the Convention Bureau? How was a geographic spread ensured? How did the Convention Bureau optimise opportunities? Was South Africa getting value for money?
South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB)
The South Africa National Convention Bureau briefed the Committee on the number of bids secured for South Africa. The briefing was undertaken by Ms Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, Executive Manager, SANCB.
The Convention Bureau was a business unit of SA Tourism. The Committee was given a brief summary of the Convention Bureau’s Business Plan 2012/13. Its annual targets were to activate all Convention Bureau unit services including bid support, site inspections, delegate boosting activities and on site event services. Some of the deliverables identified was the approval and signoff of the Convention Bureau strategy which was approved by the SA Tourism Board on 29 May 2012. Another deliverable was that all positions had been filled as planned.
According to the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) database South Africa was still the top ranked association congress destination in Africa and the Middle East. South Africa hosted 106 international association conferences in 2012. The economic value of hosting these events amounted to R662m. The number of delegates totalled 52 587 and the number of conference days stood at 414. South Africa still held the number one position in Africa and five of South Africa’s cities were ranked in the top ten on the continent. Over the next four years South Africa had secured 88 international association meetings to be staged between 2013 and 2017. The estimated economic impact was R2.6bn over the period and the estimated number of delegates to attend was 198 000. The breakdown of the 88 bids was 38 secured for 2013, 21 secured for 2014, 17 secured for 2015, 10 secured for 2016 and lastly 2 secured for 2017.
Members were also shown an organogram of the Convention Bureau structure.
The Convention Bureau strategy launch took place at the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI) 2012 Conference held in Fourways, Johannesburg. The Convention Bureau together with industry partners and other convention bureaus participated in ten delegate boosting activations to promote conferences and meetings secured for South Africa over the next five years. Of interest was that 42% of delegates coming to South Africa brought someone with them which meant that they stayed longer in than the duration of the convention that they had attended. The Convention Bureau also participated in international trade fairs. In total 150 leads had been generated and 60 of these were hot leads which had the potential of being converted into confirmed business within two years.
The Committee was given insight into the Convention Bureau’s operational tools and systems. There was a Business Events Coordinating Council (BECC) that coordinated those provinces that had provincial convention bureaus such as Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. There was also a South Africa National Convention Bureau Sub Committee which coordinated places like Nelson Mandela Bay, Kimberley, and the Northern Cape Province etc. Mpumalanga Province had a business unit. The Convention Bureau also had a Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) in place. There was furthermore a subvention policy and bidding policies. The subvention policy had been approved by the Convention Bureau’s Board and had strict criteria. The Convention Bureau required setting up a subvention fund if it wished to remain competitive. At least R36m would be needed for the fund.
Ms Kotze-Nhlapo pointed out that Meetings Africa 2013 which was Africa’s business tourism’s lekgotla was a success. In attendance amongst others had been 147 international buyers, 34 African association buyers, 14 government buyers and 100 local corporate buyers.
South Africa needed to be positioned as a meetings destination. In other words what was the way forward? The Convention Bureau went to all the provinces and developed a bid book. Customers were interested in Africa but were concerned about issues of cost, delivery, security, politics and economic stability. The Convention Bureau tried to allay these concerns by proving for example that South Africa was a value for money destination and that South Africa was innovative and an advanced nation.
Mr L Khorai (ANC) asked how the Convention Bureau contributed towards domestic tourism. Did the Convention Bureau consider both local and foreign events? He also asked whether the Convention Bureau also worked with the Department of Sports and Recreation on promoting sports events.
Ms Kotze-Nhlapo explained that when the Convention Bureau had been established, research had shown that if it was to cover both conventions and events it would need a great deal of funding. The hosting of sports events was a different ball game altogether compared to what the Convention Bureau did. There were financial implications and the National Department of Tourism had decided that the Conventions Bureau should focus on conventions and not events. The Department of Sport and Recreation should have a sports events strategy. The Convention Bureau could assist the Department of Sport and Recreation if they needed help. The correct information should be in place to ensure a good events strategy. She conceded that the hosting of events did play a huge role in marketing countries. The Convention Bureau did not develop events.
Mr Sibusiso Khuzwayo, Content Adviser to the Committee, commented that it seemed that an events strategy had an issue of finances attached to it. Hence SA Tourism could not accommodate it. Perhaps the sports events strategy could be housed with the Department of Sports and Recreation. At present it seemed that there was a gap in sports tourism. The Committee should undertake to address the issue. Interaction with Sports and Recreation should take place.
The Chairperson agreed that it was a policy decision that needed to be taken. The Committee should decide where an events strategy should lie. It was not a decision that should be taken by the Conventions Bureau.
Ms Kotze-Nhlapo addressed the question on domestic tourism and said that the cities and provinces should realise the importance of domestic meetings as well. The Convention Bureau had suggested to local convention bureaus to put packages together as they did with international conventions and meetings. This could be where cities compete with one another.
The Chairperson suggested that perhaps the Committee should ask the Minister of Tourism whether there was an events strategy for sports and recreation etc, The Department of Arts and Culture could also be brought on board.
Ms M Njobe (COPE) referred to the 88 meetings secured by the Convention Bureau from 2013-2017. How did it compare with other countries like the USA, UK and Germany?
She felt that city convention bureaus, the provincial convention bureaus and the national convention bureau all competed for the same market. Was there a duplication of activities and competition for the same meetings? How did it affect the Convention Bureau’s performance? She pointed out that the briefing had been silent about domestic tourism. How the events organised by the Convention Bureau could be used to promote domestic tourism? She further asked what challenges were there for the Convention Bureau that society or members could assist them in dealing with. What could government do or not do to promote the work of the Convention Bureau.
Ms Kotze-Nhlapo referred to the 88 meetings secured by South Africa answered that there were many more than the 106 that had been hosted. There were corporate as well as government meetings to consider. There were association meetings that the Convention Bureau bid for. There were around 10 000 associations. Meetings rotated all over the world. There could be 6000 meetings that rotated all over the world. There were 776 African associations and South Africa could have more meetings if these meetings could be rotated more. The International Congress and Convention Association had three requirements for the inclusion of an event on their database. Meetings had to rotate on a regular basis, attract a minimum of 50 participants and rotate between at least 3 countries. In 2012 South Africa hosted 106 meetings. Germany was ranked number one as it had hosted 600 meetings. She felt that South Africa was doing quite well. It was ranked number 35 in the world and number one in Africa. Kenya was ranked number two in Africa and China was ranked number five in the world. The intention was to make it easier for persons to hold meetings and conventions in South Africa. South Africa should be made more accessible.
On the issue of duplication of activities, she said it was about Customer Relations Management. When the Convention Bureau put in a lead it distributed that lead to places which were able to bid for it. She gave an example that the International AIDS Society had shortlisted Durban and London to host a convention. They then went behind Durban’s back and asked Cape Town to bid. The Convention Bureau was informed by Durban and consequently a meeting was convened between Cape Town and Durban. It was decided that Durban should host the convention as AIDS figures were huge in Durban. It was appropriate for the convention to be held there. AIDS International was informed by the Convention Bureau to hold the convention in Durban or not in South Africa at all. They wished South African cities to compete with one another. The Convention Bureau tried to encourage co-opetition instead of competition.
Mr F Bhengu (ANC) asked whether the Convention Bureau was part of SA Tourism. He also asked whether the Convention Bureau had considered coming up with a model to educate South Africa’s youth especially those at universities.
The Chairperson confirmed that they were.
Ms Kotze-Nhlapo answered that the Convention Bureau was a business unit in SA Tourism.
On youth development she said that IMEX had come to South Africa. A future leader’s forum was held. All universities were present. The Convention Bureau also gave guest lectures at universities.
She felt it important to work with SAACI on the issue of youth. When a SAACI conference was held the Convention Bureau ensured that students were present. There were courses on offer but more could be done.
Ms X Makasi (ANC) pointed out that Johannesburg, Cape Town and Kwazulu-Natal seemed to get most of the bids. What about those provinces who did not have convention bureaus.
Ms Kotze-Nhlapo said that it was not true that all meetings were held in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. Meetings had been held in Stellenbosch, the Eastern Cape, Kimberley and Grahamstown to mention a few places. Quite a few government meetings did not get captured by ICCA. The idea was to assist provinces not to compete with one another.
Ms Njobe said that competition between provinces and metros should be prevented.
Ms Kotze-Nhlapo responded that the Cape Town and Western Cape Convention Bureau looked after the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Province. They specifically focussed on large business events. She noted that the Mpumalanga Province was a destination good for incentives. For conferences and conventions facilities was needed. She said that there was no tension between provinces and metros. The three spheres of government ie national, provincial and municipalities all worked together. It was confirmed that provinces and metros did contribute funds and services. It was for the very reason of coordination that a coordinating council was important. The scenario was different in the leisure industry where there was Cape Town Tourism and Western Cape Tourism which was separate.
Mr Bhengu suggested that the Conventions Bureau complete its website.
Ms Kotze-Nhlapo responded that the Conventions Bureau was to be found on the SA Tourism website which was up and running. The Conventions Bureau page was more for buyers than for delegates.
She agreed that sports and arts did have a tourism aspect. It should not be up to the National Department of Tourism (NDT) to decide on whether to bid for the Olympics, a World Cup or a jazz festival. It should be up to the Departments of Sports and Recreation and Arts and Culture.
Mr Khuzwayo pointed out that the subvention fund mentioned was important. Who would contribute towards it? Was the private sector on board, and if not how could the private sector get involved.
He felt that the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) also came into play. Did the subvention fund rotate? Was it better to locate the Fund with the Convention Bureau or with SAACI?
Ms Kotze-Nhlapo said that the Convention Bureau Board had approved the Convention Bureau’s subvention policy. There was a criteria system in place. A National Department of Tourism study had shown that South Africa needed a subvention fund. The NDT sat on the Convention Bureau Board. The subvention policy had to be in line with PFMA guidelines and within its parameters. The issues were technical and consultations with National Treasury and the NDT had already taken place. The Board had appointed a committee to look after the fund. For now the subvention policy was in place. Where the subvention fund should be housed must still be decided.
The Committee considered and adopted unamended minutes dated the 5 March 2013, 16 April 2013, 23 April 2013, 30 April 2013 and 8 May2013.
The meeting was adjourned.
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