Meetings Africa: From advancing the MICE sector to busier African skies


Exciting news abounds for the aviation and business events sectors, as Meetings Africa 2023 promises to deliver a unique experience.

This prestigious tradeshow, dedicated to advancing the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events (MICE) sector in Africa, is introducing a new platform to boost efforts to improve connectivity across the continent.
Meetings Africa will, for the first time this year, host an airline pavilion, which aims to fast track the sector’s recovery, from an airlift perspective.

This new pavilion has been designed to allow airlines to engage and collaborate, a move expected to yield significant benefits for the industry, including improved operational efficiencies, better customer experience and innovation.

According to Zinhle Nzama, the Acting Chief Convention Bureau Officer at the South African National Convention Bureau (SANBC), the airline pavilion is an essential tool for the recovery of the tourism sector globally and, therefore, it is vital to use the Meetings Africa platform to advance the work of airlines and provide a platform for collaboration.

Zinhle Nzama, Acting Chief Convention Bureau Officer at the South African National Convention

“We recognise the immense impact that Covid-19 had on businesses of all sizes, including those in the aviation sector. To support these enterprises and provide them with the market access they deserve, we have introduced this new feature – the airline pavilion. It aims to provide a platform for various airline businesses to showcase their offerings and connect with potential customers.

By providing exhibitors in airline pavilion with the same access to the show, including the diary system, we will level the playing field and offer a fair chance for all businesses to participate.

This initiative is one of the many ways through which South African Tourism and the SANCB are assisting the sector towards full and inclusive recovery. We believe this pavilion will help pave the way for a brighter and more resilient future for the African airline industry,” Nzama said.

Airlines showcasing at the pavilion are Airlink, Asky airlines, Air cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, Lam Mozambique, Fly Namibia, Eswatini Airlines and FlySafair. Other airlines showcasing at Meetings Africa are South African Airways, Cemair, RwandAir, Proflight and Air Mauritius.

Edwin Umejiaku, a West African aviation expert, expressed similar views to Nzama. He pointed out that the lack of flights, insufficient seating capacity, and limited frequencies have always been obstacles to air connectivity.
However, with the pavilion, airlines will have a chance to come together and work collaboratively towards improving their capacities and increasing the number of flights to connect more African destinations by air. The proposed business models are expected to be win-win, ensuring seamless connectivity in and out of the continent.

This pavilion comes at an opportune time as the aviation sector gradually bounces back to pre-Covid-19 levels. It is also a platform that augurs well for South Africa’s strategic focus of achieving 21 million tourists by 2030.

Nzama reiterated that South African Tourism is committed to forging new partnerships by offering a platform for airline partners to meet with the global business events community.

“Meetings Africa has set its sights on aiding African business events players in restarting and expanding their operations. The goal is to generate opportunities for Africa’s business events sector, allowing for a more vibrant resurgence than ever before. Our new look represents this new injection of energy and underscores the importance we place on connections,” Nzama explained.

Sustained efforts led by SA Tourism, industry players and government to increase airlift and connectivity to revive the tourism industry continue to bear fruit.
The second half of 2022 saw significant developments when direct flights between South Africa and Belgium were announced in September. Two months later, a new non-stop airlift service between Washington DC and Cape Town was introduced.

The new route operated by United Airlines is set to increase the number of tourists from North America to South Africa, which is currently the second-largest overseas market for South Africa.

In addition to the new Washington DC route, the national carrier, South African Airways (SAA), retained all its historical route traffic rights and also introduced flights to Blantyre and Lilongwe in Malawi, Windhoek in Namibia, and Victoria Falls, in Zimbabwe, as well as increasing frequencies to other African destinations. The airline is also planning to launch its first post-restart intercontinental route this year.

Nzama concluded by saying the advantages presented by the Meetings Africa airline pavilion are numerous, and additional routes would significantly benefit Africa’s tourism, visitor numbers, and its economy.


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