New Convention Centre for Cape Town

Posted On Tuesday, 10 April 2001 03:01 Published by
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CAPE TOWN Planners behind the new R500m Cape Town Convention Centre, construction of which is set

CAPE TOWN Planners behind the new R500m Cape Town Convention Centre, construction of which is set
to begin today, hope the project will expand SA's convention market rather than take market share
away from other local centres.
It is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2003.
The centre, which will include a four-star hotel, an office block and a convention centre, has been
widely heralded as a development that will grow the size of the SA meetings, incentive, conference
and exhibition market and will have a significant effect on the local economy.
Cape Town has to date lagged behind Durban and Johannesburg in establishing its own purpose-built
convention and exhibition centre. Durban's International Convention Centre came into operation in
1997, and the Sandton Convention Centre opened last September.
A key issue now facing industry players is the extent to which Cape Town will compete with Durban
and Johannesburg: will the advent of the centre increase the size of the pie, or will it take a
slice of the action away from the other cities?
Centre CEO Ian Douglas says the centre aims to increase the size of the SA convention market,
estimated to be worth R8,5bn, and is not intended to take business away from other centres.
"The Australian experience has shown it is possible to develop an international conference centre
in every major city, without detracting from one another."
Deon Viljoen, executive director of the Sandton Convention Centre, agrees with this co-operative
approach, and says that Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg will collectively be better placed to
market SA on the international stage.
He says that Cape Town clearly has the edge over Johannesburg and Durban when it comes to
destination-based conference and exhibition activities, and already commands about 80% of the SA
market.
In his view, a company wishing to reward top employees was likely to choose Cape Town than
Johannesburg.
However, given its proximity to the heart of SA's economic activity, the Sandton centre offers
advantages to clients who wish to minimise transport and accommodation costs.
According to Rick Taylor, CEO of Cape Metropolitan Tourism, Cape Town is ranked as the 27th most
popular convention destination worldwide, due to its scenic location, favourable exchange rate,
easy air access, and expanding hotel facilities.
The centre aims to promote the city and put it in the top 10.
The centre is a joint initiative between the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape provincial
government and the private sector.
A study conducted by the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town estimates that
it will make a cumulative contribution to the gross domestic product of R11,2bn over the next 10
years and will generate 15000 direct and indirect employment opportunities.
Last week, the centre announced it had awarded the management contract for the running of the
centre to the Dutch-based RAI Group, which has operations in Europe, Boston and Bangkok.
RAI Group's MD, Fred Minken, said Cape Town has already established itself as a "status destination"
and that the centre would enable the city to secure an increased share of the highmargin business
tourism trade.


Publisher: Business Day
Source: Business Day

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