Sandton prime destination for international conventions

Posted On Wednesday, 06 August 2014 18:10 Published by
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International perceptions about Johannesburg change, making it easier to bid to host international events in the city , says executive director of the Sandton Convention Centre, Matifadza Nyazema.

Sandton Convention Centre

The centre, which hosts more than 500 events a year, has provided the venue for the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group Mayors Summit, among other international meetings this year.

The Days of the Dinosaur Exhibition, held at the centre in June and July the first time the show came to SA attracted 185,000 visitors over four weeks. The exhibition will return next year for eight weeks.

Next month, the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz festival will be held at the Sandton Convention Centre, for the first time. Last year, more than 24,000 people attended the event in Newtown. The five-day Africities Summit 2015, as well as the Africa and MiddleEast Conference 2016, will also be held at the venue.

The mix of business and lifestyle events that the Sandton Convention Centre attracts indicates that Sandton and Johannesburg have "come of age" as global destinations, says Ms Nyazema. Business tourism conferences that include leisure activities is a focus area for the Department of Tourism, which views it as a way to grow tourism in the country.

According to Tourism SA, the country is due to host more than 80 international conferences between 2013 and 2017. These conferences will bring in about R2.6bn. The International Congress and Convention Associations (ICCA) last year ranked Johannesburg 136th of more than 400 global cities hosting international events. This was an improvement on three years ago, when Johannesburg was ranked 234th, according to Grant Thornton principal and head of advisory services Gillian Saunders.

Cape Town is ranked first on the continent and 52nd globally. Last year, 45% of all conferences in the country took place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, according to the centre. Durban was ranked 97th globally by ICCA. "Since the 2010 football World Cup perceptions of Johannesburg have definitely changed," says Ms Nyazema. "It used to be a tough call to try bid for international business."

Ms Saunders says while the Sandton Convention Centre may get fewer international events than Cape Town, it is very strong in securing major events and "clever at orchestrating (its) own events". The centre is also looking to host "signature" events that will return each year, she says.

The centre is also a popular venue for weddings. The South African National Convention Bureau has noted that most of the events hosted in Cape Town are international, while the Sandton Convention Centre focuses on local and international corporate meetings.

Last modified on Sunday, 17 August 2014 11:21

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