Collaboration and partnership will be trump cards for Africa’s Meetings Incentives, Conferences and Exhibition (MICE) post the novel coronavirus (covid-19).
This was the verdict for panelists during the second #TourismWebinar where the discussion zeroed in on the impact on the MICE Tourism sub sector
Since the onset of the epidemic, hundreds of events have been cancelled all over the world and waking up to the news of cancellations or postponements has become the new normal.
A very regionally balanced panel constituting policy makers, convention bureaus, Professional Conference Organizers, and advisors, strategic consultants discussed the topic: “The Future of MICE Tourism in Africa Post Covid-19”
Rick Taylor -CEO of The Tourism Company, South Africa, Kwakye Donkor CEO of Africa Tourism Partners and Convener of Africa Tourism Leadership Forum, Yoadan Tilahun -CEO of Flawless Events Ethiopia, Frank Murangwa- Director of Marketing Rwanda Convention Bureau, Funke Bucknor-Obruthe CEO of Zapphire Events Group, Nigeria
Anchoring the session were Jon Howell of AViaDev Africa and Kojo Bentum-Williams of VoyagesAfriq Travel Media.
Taylor got the webinar started when he made the point that, the use of teleconference and digital tools will indeed compliment the services and tools making MICE effective but will never replace face to face meetings.
The Tourism Company boss revealed a survey which said an hour face to face meetings equate 5 hours conference/video call.
He concluded by urging a collaboration for actors to make MICE a key sector for African economies.
Additionally, he spoke about the growth strategy.
He said the continent should move from their comfort zones and make MICE higher on their agendas.
“Let’s build a potent business model, with strong value propositions, against a demand generation strategy. and that is being strategic which means having a master game plan that directs that directs all that we do vs tactical I.e what we do in the moment. The Covid19 moment will pass. The onus is on us, through hard work, honesty and integrity – to reach for the stars,” Taylor added.
CEO of Flawless Events, Ethiopia’s leading Professional Conference Organizer(PCO) Yoadan Tilahun gave a situational report in Ethiopia and how colleague players and supply chain are coping with the “new normal” even though they are not in lockdown.
She talks about the measures the government has put in place to ensure that the virus is contained but emphasized that no financial package has been announced by the federal government to mitigate the situation.
However, Yoadan raised issues and hoped this pandemic become a good crisis for Africa’s meeting industry thus bringing the industry together to forge ahead.
“Live events will not go away but technology will increase the reach and provide allow events to be more inclusive. What we put out there becomes our collective reality so let’s speak loudly to the fact that Africa will elevate Africa’s MICE industry. What webinars have taught us is that content matters and so does delivery to capture an audience so let’s develop relevant and succinct business products that is relevant across border to encourage us to meet each other and let’s start shading the costs and heaviness and BA that comes with Africa focused events .. too much protocol and Bruhaha on how we put events together …” she concluded.
Frank Murangwa, Director of Marketing at the Rwanda Convention Bureau said, tourism and MICE is a key economic driver in Rwanda and thus make their work much easier to engage and put forward ideas to national government to help achieve.
He believes that working together as bureaus in the region amongst Africans will help in peer learning and ultimately form an underlining fulcrum in elevating mice tourism to the highest level.
‘’This pandemic has given us the right avenue to have an introspection and presents Africa huge opportunity to grow the sector and this is the right moment. The future is bright,” Murangwa suggested.
Seasoned Marketing Strategist and CEO of South African Based Africa Tourism Partners Kwakye Donkor in his introductory remark called for an alignment of thoughts and works to help Africa transit well managing the crisis and crucially the post covid19 situation.
He posits that, as the Convener of the Africa Tourism Leadership Forum and Africa MICE Masterclass it was key to build alliances in the African continent which will ensure equitable distribution of the mice economy
‘‘Let’s work with our governments on COVID-19 containment measures, while we focus one re-skilling ourselves and staff to focus on domestic and intra-Africa MICE opportunities’’ Donkor opined.
West African Voices:
Funke Bucknor-Obruthe CEO of Zapphire Events Group in Nigeria said, key players in Nigeria through the Associations are engaging to see the nest way forward.
She added that, one thing the corona has taught us was the need to work together which in effect help in quality controls and bench marking to the success of the industry.
Bucknor-Obruthe also narrates how the pandemic is hitting hard with businesses and cancellations.
‘’The silver lining of this epidemic has allowed us to look inward and ways to manage our sector especially with the processes. in the event. The event association in Nigeria is working on the statistics and numbers to establish the loss of revenues and how small, medium and other large businesses can be supported’’.
Health and safety are something that the industry is putting in measures to ensure that players in the industry to work on policy.
A poll done for the over 160 delegates who participated in the webinar had majority seeing a comeback in the first quarter of 2021
The #TourismWebinar is an initiative between VoyagesAfriq Travel Media and #AViaDev to help the tourism ecosystem manoeuvre the current crisis but be well prepared for the “new normal”