The South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB) briefed the Committee on bids and geographic spread of business events across SA. The types of business events that the SANCB assisted in bidding for was for Meeting, Incentive, Convention/Conference and Exhibition (MICE). Members were informed that business events tied in with leisure tourism by virtue of conversions. Before a business event could be hosted in SA there were requirements that had to be met. For instance, for conventions there needed to be active membership to associations, there had to be meeting facilities & technical support, bidding support plus there had to be accessibility by air. Bid support services that the SANCB offered included bidding support and convention planning support. Services not included was organising the event or making key decisions. Detail was provided on the process involved around working with provincial and city convention bureaus. The bidding process itself and the steps involved were outlined to the Committee. On market priorities the SANCB focused its efforts on attracting conferences in economic sectors that government had identified as priority sectors for future development. The Committee was provided with a breakdown of figures on the economic impact of MICE. Detail was also provided on regional bid distribution across provinces. There was a National Association Strategy for the hosting of conferences in villages, townships and small dorpies. The National Association Strategy aimed to encourage local based associations, federations and societies to rotate their national meetings/conferences across SA thereby spreading the economic impact of local meetings and conferences to villages, townships and small dorpies. Members were assured that Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) were taken on board when it came to international trade platforms and that there was an SMME Programme when it came to the Tourism Indaba and Meetings Africa.
SA Tourism Board highlighted that there had been an improvement in the status for SA as a destination of choice for leisure and for business. From 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019, SANCB hosted 207 international conferences, attracted 87 000 delegates which contributed R2.5bn to SA’s economy. SA retained its 39th ranking according to the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). SA was also still ranked number one in Africa and in the Middle East. Cape Town was the number one destination as it held 100 out of the 450 meetings that had been held in Africa. Everyone was working together to overcome challenges that were there. The SANCB used the challenges to propel itself forward. Three years ago the SANCB received an extra R90m to establish the Bid Support Programme. The intention was to propel the SANCB forward on the hosting of business events. The SANCB had consequently doubled the number of bids.
Members were unanimous in their appreciation of the presentation. Members were pleased that there was some integration on issues that members had raised. Members felt that when people wished to host events in SA then they needed to be taken to villages, townships and small dorpies. Big cities like Johannesburg were only favourites for events and conferences because efforts had been made to market them as such. Small places would not feature if no effort was made to market them as well. Members were pleased that the SANCB was making an effort but felt that efforts needed to be intensified. Villages, townships and small dorpies had to be integrated. Members observed that the presentation had not said much around economic growth and job creation. Members felt that the efforts by the SANCB were an opportunity to grow the economy of SA. SANCB was asked what its interaction with the Department of Trade and Industry was, especially with the aim of capitalising on economic opportunities and job creation. Members pointed out that municipalities and provinces needed to ensure that infrastructure was in place. It was not the responsibility of the association having the conference to do so. Members raised the matter of the AGSA’s findings on SANCB not having a system to collect data on the number of delegates that attended conferences. Members were concerned that the SANCB only reported on its targets annually. The targets were not disaggregated as per quarter. Members suggested that the SANCB report back to the Committee at least twice a year regarding its performance.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee pursued the objectives of SA’s constitution. It was about correcting the injustices of the past. The main issue in tourism was the need for transformation. The Committee’s relationship with the National Department of Tourism (NDT) was one of reciprocity. The Committee did not wish to have an antagonistic relationship but members were in no way co-optable.
There needed to be cooperation. The strategic goal was to build SA. This was to be the approach going forward. If jobs increased, then spending in SA would increase. High inflation and unemployment could be eradicated but it was easier said than done. In the next five years the Committee would measure its success by the extent to which it could implement transformation in the sector. Qualitatively tourism would be used as a driver to eradicate poverty, inequality and unemployment. Poverty and unemployment was rife in villages and townships as well as on the periphery of small dorpies. The Committee would be pleased if tourism efforts could be directed towards villages, townships and small dorpies. All things being equal he hoped that the Committee’s aims will be realised. He noted that despair would not get you anywhere. One had to be positive.
Remarks by South African Tourism (SAT)
Mr Thebe Ikalafeng, Chairperson: Marketing Committee, SAT Board, stated that the aim of the briefing was to speak to what the South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB) had accomplished. The briefing would also speak to the role of the SANCB. The briefing would partly be informational and partly speak on the status of the SANCB. There had been an improvement in the status for SA as a destination of choice for leisure and for business. From 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019 SANCB hosted 207 international conferences, attracted 87 000 delegates which contributed R2.5bn to SA’s economy. There were 799 conference days. SA retained its 39th ranking according to the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). The ICCA was a global organisation that measured the competitiveness of countries in terms of holding meetings. SA was also still ranked number one in Africa and in the Middle East. Cape Town was the number one destination as it held 100 out of the 450 meetings that had been held in Africa. Everyone was working together to overcome challenges that were there. The SANCB used the challenges to propel itself forward. Three years ago the SANCB received an extra R90m to establish the Bid Support Programme. The intention was to propel the SANCB forward on the hosting of business events. The SANCB had consequently doubled the number of bids. Every time SA hosted an event there were socio-economic benefits. Events were only not held in big cities like Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. SANCB was geographically representative in the hosting of events across SA. This was important for transformation. The SANCB did not host events but supported events. It assisted associations etc.
Mr P Moteka (EFF) asked that Mr Ikalafeng provide the Committee with the document that he was reading from as it contained a great deal of information.
Briefing by the South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB) on bids and geographic spread of business events
Ms Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, Chief Convention Bureau Officer, SANCB, stated that she would not speak to each and every slide in the presentation as she assumed that Members had gone through the document.
SANCB was established in 2012. The types of business events that the SANCB assisted in bidding for was for Meeting, Incentive, Convention/Conference and Exhibition (MICE). The Committee was given context of what a convention bureau was. A convention bureau was a destination’s marketing body and its primary role was to market and sell the destination it represented. She noted that business events tied in with leisure tourism by virtue of conversions. Before a business event could be hosted in SA there were requirements that had to be met. For instance, for conventions there needed to be active membership to associations, there had to be meeting facilities and technical support as well as bidding support and there had to be accessibility by air.
The Committee was given insight into the bid support services that the SANCB offered which included bidding support and convention planning support. Services not included were also highlighted. These included organising the event or making key decisions. Detail was also provided on the process involved around working with provincial and city convention bureaus.
Mr Bjorn Hufkie, General Manager: MIC Sales, SANCB, outlined the bidding process itself and the steps involved.
Ms Bongiwe Nzeku, Head: Business Development and Support Services, SANCB, elaborated on bidding document examples, delegate boosting examples and on on-site services examples.
Ms Kotze-Nhlapo touched on market priorities. The SANCB focused its efforts on attracting conferences in economic sectors that government had identified as priority sectors for future development. The Committee was provided with a breakdown of figures on the economic impact of MICE. Detail was also provided on regional bid distribution across provinces. SANCB put together packages for small towns. There was a National Association Strategy for the hosting of conferences in villages, townships and small dorpies. The National Association Strategy aimed to encourage local based associations, federations and societies to rotate their national meetings/conferences across SA thereby spreading the economic impact of local meetings and conferences to villages, townships and small dorpies. The idea was to create bidding opportunities for villages, townships and small dorpies with the assistance of provincial and city convention bureaus. Pre and post tour packages would be put together for delegates. Procurement from local service providers in villagers, townships and small dorpies could also take place.
Mr Zintle Nzama, Acting General Manager: Exhibitions and Strategic Events, SANCB, provided the Committee with brief insight into international trade platforms. The distinction was made between business events trade platforms and leisure tourism trade platforms. Members were assured that Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) were taken on board when it came to international trade platforms and that there was an SMME Programme when it came to the Tourisms Indaba and Meetings Africa.
Members were unanimous in their appreciation of the presentation.
Mr T Khalipha (ANC) agreed with the Chairperson that if the will was there then things could happen. He was pleased that there was some integration on issues that members had raised. When people wished to host events in SA, they needed to be taken to villages, townships and small dorpies. Johannesburg only existed because blacks had built it. Johannesburg was also a favourite for events/conferences because efforts were made to market it. Small places would not grow if an effort was not made. Members constituents questioned why only big towns were supported. People migrated to big cities in order to eke out a living. Their families followed them to places like Johannesburg. He was pleased that the SANCB was making an effort but said that efforts needed to be intensified. Villages, townships and small dorpies had to be integrated.
Mr M de Freitas (DA) pointed out that from the presentation he got the impression that there was not an emphasis on economic growth and job creation. Was this correct? He noted that it was touched on but it seemed that the SANCB’s focus was on conferences. It was all good and well for it to be so but he felt that the efforts by SANCB was an opportunity to grow the economy of SA. If the emphasis was not on economic growth and job creation, then it ought to be. He asked what the interaction between SANCB and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) was, especially with the aim of capitalising on economic opportunities and job creation. On the estimated economic impact of meetings, incentives and conventions (slide 28) he asked how it was calculated. Was it set as a target that needed to be achieved? It was all good and well that infrastructure support was given in small areas like Bella Bella etc but in the main, companies would not be willing to provide infrastructural support. When a conference for instance was to be held then it was expected that infrastructure should be in place. Municipalities and provinces needed to ensure that infrastructure was there. It was not the responsibility of the company or association having the conference to do so.
Mr Ikalafeng, on the maintenance of products, stated that it was a collective responsibility. Perhaps there was a need to re-look at the mandate of tourism. Currently it was not within the mandate of the National Department of Tourism (NDT) or South African Tourism (SAT). On the economic impact of events he reiterated that there was an R2.5bn contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In addition, every tourist that visited SA created ten jobs. Whether delegates came to SA for meetings or for business there was an economic impact.
Ms Kotze-Nhlapo responded that the Return on Investment (RoI) was great. Conversion was very important. The economic impact was very direct. Delegates brought in a very specific piece of business. The RoI was almost for every R1 that was spent R100 was made in return. She reiterated the importance on converting more bids.
Mr H Gumbi (DA) asked whether there was no convention bureau in the Eastern Cape. He asked how big SANCB was. What was the cost of the SANCB? He also asked how many employees the SANCB had. He noted that previously there had been concerns around the SANCB over achieving on its targets. How had the SANCB reset its targets?
Ms Kotze-Nhlapo confirmed that there was a convention bureau in the Eastern Cape. SANCB had 19 employees and three units in place. On targets, SANCB used ICCA meetings as a baseline to set targets. SANCB now had a research section which gave it a better understanding of how targets should be set. Non-ICCA meetings were also taken into consideration.
Ms M Gomba (ANC) pointed out that in SA and in Africa in general there were many traditional practitioners on healing. Had SANCB thought about bringing associations of different traditional healing practitioners together at a type of conference to share and exchange ideas.
Mr Ikalafeng responded that it was the SANCB’s job to ensure that they empowered and enabled associations to get to the same standards as other bidders. SANCB provided assistance.
Ms Kotze-Nhlapo added that the SANCB had already had a Chinese traditional medicine association meeting.
Mr P Moteka (EFF) pointed out that the majority of people that he represented lived in villages, townships and small dorpies. In the presentation, he observed no benefit for his people. He did not place the blame on SANCB but rather on the government. After 25 years of democracy nothing had changed. He referred to slide 4 which spoke about the functions of SAT Board in terms of section 10 (b) and 10(d) of the Tourism Act relating to marketing efforts and on advising the Minister of Tourism. Had the SAT Board advised the Minister that no events were happening in villages, townships and small dorpies? If the SAT Board had done so why was the Committee not seeing any efforts in villages, townships and dorpies? On the requirements for hosting conferences in particular places such as having good infrastructure, facilities and ease of doing business he noted there was no way that villages were able to meet the requirements. If government did not take active steps to upgrade things in villages then villages would never be able to host conferences, events etc. On the R90m that SANCB had received to establish the Bid Support Programme three years previously, he asked when the funds had been spent. How much of it had been spent in villages? When it came to tourism he stated that villages, townships and small dorpies did not form part of SA. He pointed out that towns like Kuruman had mines around them yet there were no facilities for conventions. The focus seemed not to be in these types of places. Meetings, conferences etc were still being held in places like Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town because the status quo was being maintained. Things had to change. Villages, townships and small dorpies had to be taken on board. The only reason why people migrated to cities like Johannesburg was because they were in search of employment. Apartheid could no longer be blamed for the hardships that South Africans were going through. It’s been the better part of 25 years of democracy. He referred to services that the SANCB could not provide (slide 12) and stated that even event organisers were found in big cities. What was the SANCB as part of government doing?
Mr Ikalafeng, on how SAT advised the Minister, said that the SAT’s work was collective. Everyone worked as a team. Challenges were tackled and opportunities to explore were looked at.
Mr H April (ANC) stated that he had attended a Meetings Africa meeting at Sandton Centre. It was clear to him that the occasion was not meant for the poor but for a different sphere of people. He had been invited to attend by the Chamber of Commerce. In his view, the event had been a good thing but a platform needed to be set up for smaller guys to get expression. He suggested a smaller scale of Meetings Africa be set up for smaller guys. Networking was extremely important in the tourism sector.
Mr Z Peter (ANC), speaking to transformation, asked what could be done to improve the situation. He referred to the Lilizella Awards and said that 80% to 90% of award recipients were white owned companies. Yes, a manager who was black received the award but the company that the manager worked for was white owned. What did the SANBC think could be done about transformation?
Mr Ikalafeng, on transformation pertaining to the Lilizella Awards, said that internal discussions were taking place that persons recognised should be representative of SA. Most of the owners of businesses/properties in the tourism sector were the historically advantaged. SAT was doing its bit. Even from a grading perspective there were talks about perhaps grading different properties differently ie a townships property versus a Sandton Sun type of property.
Ms L Makhubele-Mashele (ANC) raised the matter of the findings of the Auditor General of SA (AGSA) on SANCB not having a system to collect data on the number of delegates that attended conferences. SANCB had responded to the AGSA that it did not have this information as the events were not its own. The event was that of the association that was hosting it. There were issues of confidentiality at play. SANCB merely provided support to the association which sometimes was of a financial nature. She pointed out that when SANCB provided financial support it was taxpayers’ money that was being used. What systems was SANCB planning to put in place to address the concerns of the AGSA?
She further pointed out that the SANCB reported on its targets on an annual basis. The targets were not disaggregated as per quarter. This was a matter that the Committee’s predecessor had an issue with. The Committee needed to at least twice a year see what work or progress SANCB was making. The Committee had to ensure that things were going in the direction that it ought to. She suggested that the SANCB report back to the Committee at least twice a year. SANCB was nonetheless doing a good job. She observed that SANCB, when it did conversions from business to leisure, put packages together. The delegates would either sight see before or after a convention. How huge was the conversion rate? She asked whether business was coming on board to put together attractive packages.
She stated that the concept of sustainability villages should be sold to other departments. Delegates attending conferences were no longer being given corporate gifts but were given vouchers that they could use at local craft shops. This practice needed to be emulated by other spheres of government as well. On brand positivity, she said that in recent times SA’s brand had taken a bit of a knock. How had this impacted the work of SANCB? Were some associations taking their conventions to other countries? She asked how SANCB was managing its brand positivity in selling SA.
Ms Kotze-Nhlapo, on whether the SANCB lost business due to negative publicity around SA, stated that delegates did ask about safety and security. There had always been a joint operations committee in place. The South African Police Services (SAPS) formed part of it. Everyone worked together. Certain events had certain requirements. There were many departments which came to SANCB asking for assistance. The Department of Environmental Affairs was one of them. She emphasised that the biggest challenge was that people did not know about SANCB and what it did. SANCB could provide assistance in bidding. SA as a country needed to get more bids. On the AGSA findings, she said that they had met with the AGSA and had come to an agreement to work out some sort of methodology. The AGSA approached things as a census when it was a sample. SA was ranked 38th in the world and was number one in Africa and the Middle East. The AGSA required that the SANCB submit a figure annually. SANCB had appointed a company to calculate the number of delegates but could not obtain the details of each delegate. She added that the R90m was an investment. None of the funds left the shores of SA. It stayed in SA. On the sustainability village concept, SANCB was planning to roll out more of it.
Mr Ravi Nadasen, Interim Chairperson, SAT Board, stated that the SANCB was being more proactive on where it was relative to targets in terms of the rest of the year. SANCB would look at its quarterly performance.
The Chairperson pointed out that there were 226 municipalities throughout SA. They should be urged to hold some big event every year. There was an opportunity to have 226 events. The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (DCOGTA) could also be lobbied. He had, as in previous meetings, brought up the issue of municipal tourism indabas. Small municipal tourism indabas should be held as a build up to the national tourism indaba. He said that he had tried to convince different Ministers of Minerals Resources to delay having a mining indaba. The first step should be to have small mining indabas for each precious mineral in areas where they were mined. For instance, a diamond mining indaba should be held in Kimberley. Once this was done it could culminate in the national mining indaba being held. There were many Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) involved in environmental issues but not many were involved in the tourism sphere. It was something that the SANCB should look into. At one point in time he had spoken to Mr Gary Player, the golfing legend, about holding golf tournaments in small dorpies and that famous golfers could adopt a small dorpie. Mr Player had been open to the idea. The small tournaments could culminate in the Sun City Nedbank Challenge. The golfing economy was massive and there were opportunities. The Committee was in the process of establishing small dorpie oversight forums, village oversight forums and township oversight forums. The Committee intended to get information from these fora. The Committee planned to launch the fora on 3 December 2019 all things being equal. The fora would be rolled out in 2020. SANCB was doing a great job yet it was only six years old. The SANCB was asked how it planned with other departments like the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) on getting events to SA. Everyone needed to be on the same page.
Mr Ikalafeng appreciated the interaction with the Committee. There was constructive criticism and input. The suggestions made by the Committee including those of the Chairperson were also appreciated.
Mr Nadasen remarked that the inputs from the Committee always added value. He also appreciated the positive comments about the presentation. He did point out that the war on transformation was not a silver bullet. A great deal of work was being done in different spheres and fronts. The important thing was to make a start and to maintain the traction.
Minutes dated 5; 12 and 19 November 2019 were adopted unamended.
The Chairperson reiterated that the Committee was launching its Legislative Tourism Oversight Forums nationally the following week on 3 December 2019.
The meeting was adjourned.
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