IMEX Frankfurt: South Africa Business Events Products takes centre stage


While the South African business events industry, like many countries across the world, was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, South Africa still has a variety of quality-assured business events products and services geared up to host safe events with service excellence.

This is the message that 23 South African exhibitors, led by Deputy Minister of Tourism, Fish Mahlalela took to the world as they participated at IMEX Frankfurt, Germany this week.

IMEX Frankfurt is one of the world’s largest global trade exhibitions and it is back in a physical format after a two-year absence.

“Given the scale and importance of IMEX Frankfurt, it is the ideal platform to provide the most updated information about destination South Africa. We want to reassure our partners from across the world that they can come to South Africa and have safe and successful events. South Africa is a vibrant business events destination. On the back of our rich heritage, natural beauty and our vibrant people, we have an opportunity to reclaim our share of big global events and of course, international arrivals” said Deputy Minister of Tourism, Fish Mahlalela.

Deputy Minister Mahlalela attended the IMEX Frankfurt Policy Forum on the first day of the trade show. He joined world leaders as they deliberated on redefining and influencing the future direction of business events related to policy making and strategic destination management.

“Being at IMEX Frankfurt reaffirms our country’s credibility and it cements our commitment to growing business events even further. As clearly articulated at the Policy Forum, now more than ever, it is important that events return in physical form as they provide much needed revenue injection and economic boost for the cities and the countries that host these events. A case in point is that Frankfurt, would not have as many people from various parts of the world as they do today, had it not been for this trade show [IMEX],” said Deputy Minister Mahlalela

A key component of South Africa’s business events strategy is to ensure that demand is met by adequate, diverse and unique tourism products and services to entice business events delegates to the country. To this end, various businesses including tour operators, hotels, provincial and city tourism authorities were among the exhibitors at IMEX Frankfurt. Significantly, among them were small tourism businesses, (SMMEs), whose presence at IMEX Frankfurt is being subsidised by the South African government to give them access to the international market.

The South Africa National Convention Bureau strategy (SANCB), is focused on key sectors of the economy as part of the country’s plan to contribute to the economy. Business events are a powerful catalyst for job creation and inclusive economic growth. The key sectors include agriculture, business process outsourcing, creative studies, life sciences, education, communications technology, manufacturing, medical science, tourism and religion.

“As a government, we remain committed to providing meaningful support to the operations of the sector that has seen so much loss,” added Mahlalela

While at the trade show, the South Africa team, met with highly targeted international hosted buyers with whom they had pre-scheduled face-to-face meetings and used their interaction with various stakeholders to obtain market intelligence that will further inform the work that South African Tourism does in marketing the country as a business events destination.

“As we optimistically cast our sights to the future, we remain committed to our sector’s recovery. Participating at such trade shows is a part of our efforts to reigniting global demand and in this regard we will continue to work with our partners in the public and private sectors,” concluded Deputy Minister Mahlalela.

In 2019, IMEX Frankfurt attracted about 3439 exhibitors from 172 countries showcasing their products and services to the world’s most influential travel buyers and trade visitors.

The global business events industry also commemorated Global Exhibitions Day on the 1st of June and the South Africa team connected live from Frankfurt to Johannesburg where the day was celebrated by the greater South African business events sector.

“Having been at IMEX for the past few days, the importance of business events globally was once again highlighted with a clear message that if we do not continue with physical meetings then we will not be injecting money into the economies of the various cities and countries. It was so encouraging to hear most of our partners talking positively about South Africa and affirming South Africa’s business events strategy of focusing on key economic sectors,” added Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, Chief Convention Bureau Officer at South African Tourism

The South Africa business events strategy is managed by SANCB, a business unit of South African Tourism, launched in 2012.

Through the SANCB, South Africa has been represented on various stages at different trade shows, and the team has contributed to the country hosting some of the biggest events that have brought in billions of Rands to the South African economy.

For the past ten years, the team at the SANCB has flown the South African flag with pride and continues to do so passionately for the African business events industry’s growth through continued collaboration.


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