Cape Town has again ranked as the top city for international association meetings in Africa, according to the 2018 International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Statistics Report, with a total of 42 such meetings taking place in the Mother City in 2018.
In addition, Stellenbosch hosted an additional 9 international association meetings during this time.
As a result, the Western Cape region is responsible for hosting 51 of the 100 international association meetings that took place in South Africa during 2018.
The main subject areas for these conferences included the medical sciences, education and technology, with academics from local universities such as the University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University, University of the Western Cape and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology playing an important role in attracting key associations.
According to the ICCA report, the next biggest meeting destinations on the continent were: Kigali (26 meetings); Marrakesh (24 meetings); Nairobi (24 meetings) and Johannesburg (16 meetings).
Minister of Economic Opportunities, Beverley Schafer said: "Business and conference tourism have the ability to contribute significantly to the Western Cape's efforts to grow tourism in the province. Cape Town maintaining its ICCA ranking year after year is testament to the level of excellence we offer as a destination, as well as the hard work put into marketing the province. I am also pleased to see that Stellenbosch is starting to feature as a meetings destination, helping to grow the footprint of conventions and meetings in the province."
Alderman James Vos, the Mayoral Committee member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management in the City of Cape Town welcomed the ranking. “During 2009 to 2018, 492 meetings took place in Cape Town – testament to why the region is still the #1 Convention destination on the African continent, ranking #1 again in the 2018 statistics report. This ranking has been retained for the past 10 years and confirms that we are the meetings capital of Africa.”
Solly Fourie, Head of Department, Department of Economic Development and Tourism said that the Western Cape’s top ranking in Africa by the report is testimony to the region’s tourism strength.
“Last year the Western Cape secured conference bids exceeding R1 billion in economic impact for the first time. This is supported by the initiatives of the Western Cape Government and industry stakeholders. The recent investment by the Western Cape Government in the expansion of the Cape Town International Convention Centre has supported this growth”, added Fourie.
Corne Koch, Head of the Cape Town and the Western Cape Convention Bureau, a division of Wesgro, explained that of the 42 meetings taking place in Cape Town, 24 took place during the traditional low season between May and September. “This provides an important boost to our local economy during the winter months, with important benefits to leisure tourism and investment into the province, not to mention growth potential for our local knowledge economy that meetings add.”
Koch continued: “We are also excited to note that 8 of these 42 meetings exceeded 1000 or more delegates. The average length of a meeting was 3,8 days, with a total estimated 26 300 delegates attending these meetings during the year. We are particularly grateful to our partners at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, Century City Convention Centre and other venues, as well as the South African National Convention Bureau, for the enormous support provided in ensuring that we remain the top business tourism destination in Africa. It would not be possible without you.”
“The Cape Town International Convention Centre has had a proud history of bringing international events to the city of Cape Town and country. These events not only mean that there are more feet through the doors of the centre. It also brings business tourism to the city which allows for the exchange of expertise and knowledge. More importantly it positively impacts on job creation and boosts the Western Province GGP and South Africa’s GDP yearly. said Julie-May Ellingson, Chief Executive Officer of the CTICC.
Gary Koetser, Joint CEO of the Century City Conference Centre and Hotel, added: “Despite a challenging year as a result of the drought it is very encouraging to see Cape Town maintaining its number 1 position in Africa. We have no doubt that this is testament to a collaborative approach between key partners such as Wesgro’s Convention Bureau, the Air Access team, venues and of course the ICCA team. We need to continue spreading the word that the drought is over and that we are open for business. As Cape Town becomes more accessible than ever before with the additional International flights we are confident that Cape Town’s worldwide ranking will grow into the top 50 over the next couple of years!”
“The successful targeting of business tourists is an important factor in growing leisure tourism as business tourists often return as leisure tourists. This has led to an increase in investment in hotels and other infrastructure. Tourism plays a catalytic role in the economy boosting revenue and jobs in a wide range of sectors. In 2018 tourism generated R15.5 billion, up from R11.8 billion in 2013. The industry contributes 174 893 direct jobs” concluded Fourie.
The Cape Town and Western Cape Convention Bureau’s role is to promote the Cape among meeting, incentive, conference and event planners as a premier business events destination. It also offers pre-and post-bid assistance, convention planning support and on-site services to meetings planners.