Excellent news at Meetings Africa 2012 came last week from Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk, in that 200 international conferences have been signed up for the next five years, are likely to attract 300000 delegates, and promise to boost the economy by R1,6 billion in this period, reports Business Live.

Research shows that business tourists return as leisure tourists (40% for South Africa, and 23 % for Melbourne).  Just under half of business tourists bring a partner.   On average, a leisure tourist spends R1000 per day.

The Minister said that ‘we want to… make our destination more competitive in this market. We want to grow our global market share, which will require government and the private sector to work closely together as partners to shape the future of business tourism, to grow business tourism arrivals, and to fulfill the rich potential of destination SA as a business tourism destination’.

The National Convention Bureau, which is part of SA Tourism, is headed up by ex-Capetonian Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo and opens in April, and will boost our country’s national business tourism marketing.  The Bureau will be a neutral independent body providing information and advice about all business tourism events. Services offered include pre- and post-bid support, destination expertise, building attendance, convention planning support, and on-site event services, according to the Minister’s media statement.   A target of supporting 30 conference bids, and attracting 18000 delegates and R162000 in direct income, has been set for its inaugural 2012/2013 year.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage