Cape Town Meeting City

Every year South Africa hosts approximately 860 international conference events. Some 3,7 million people visited various events in 2006. South Africa has hosted prestigious events such as the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 or the World Economic Forum in 2007.

The meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) industry is booming in South Africa, and Cape Town is grabbing its slice of the pie. Approximately R231-million worth of convention business has already been secured for Cape Town between now and 2010, according to the Cape Town Convention Bureau - excluding conferences still being bid for, or any that have been booked independently of the Bureau.

Cape Town, with world-class conference and hotel facilities complemented by stunning natural and cultural tourist attractions, is increasingly making its mark on the local and international conference scene.

Rick Taylor, CEO of the Bureau, said: "Those conferences which have already been won by Cape Town amount to an economic impact of some R231.6-million. This means that over 34 000 conventions delegates will spend a total of 136 000 bed nights in Cape Town between now and 2010.

Cape Town International Convention Centre
Located on the Mother City's northern foreshore beneath Table Mountain, Cape Town's R500-million international convention centre opened its doors in July 2003, quickly raking in business, with 135 bookings, 100 of those for international conferences.

The centre was designed to bring all its facilities together under one giant roof - including a hotel, 10 000 square metres of dedicated exhibition space, two raked auditoria accommodating 1 500 and 620 people, 33 breakout rooms, and banqueting and meeting facilities. The technology is state-of-the-art, the venues are flexible, and the kitchen facilities are the largest and most advanced in the Western Cape.

Recent research shows that the total MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) industry contributes an estimated R20-billion annually to South Africa's gross domestic product. This represents some 246 000 jobs, with R6-billion being paid in salaries annually and not less than R4-billion in taxes accruing to the government, proving that the meetings tourism market is a highly profitable one.

The MICE industry is attractive for investors as it is very lucrative. Ordinary business traveler spends three times more than leisure traveler. Business travel is also a good marketing strategy for the destination as many (as much as 40 per cent) business travelers return to the destination within five years. They also spread the word about the destination and therefore lure other possible tourists, both business and leisure.

South Africa is likely to stay highly competitive as it continuously improves its infrastructure. New airports are being built and some old ones expanded and renovated. Major highways are being improved and there is also the construction of the Gautrain rapid rail commuter. The country is also highly accessible as there are 28 flights weekly between Johannesburg, Amsterdam and Paris.