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AT SANDTON CONVENTION CENTRE, JOHANNESBURG One hall, 186 exhibitors, over 3,000 visitors As Meetings Africa opens new tourism opportunities

Published by Tribune on Mon, 21 Mar 2011


As the Meetings Africa Conference ended last week at the Sandton Convention Centre, Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa, trade partners, international buyers and exhibitors described the event as an extraordinary  platform that must be sustained and improved upon to visibly market and boost  business, leisure and incentive tourism in Africa.The three-day conference which hosted over 180 exhibitors from within and outside South Africa brought together a  range of global business tourism brands of sophisticated products and services for visitors at the event to contend with.Geared towards promoting a big chunk of the South Africa tourism market to attract more patronage, the high profile business tourism platform was significantly a network forum for international buyers and sellers and also raising the regions edge as quality incentive and conference destination.However Meetings Africa also allowed meetings and event planners to explore all the destination offers at the convention centre one roof with important features showcased to keep them abreast of latest trends, developments and ideas.Generally, a new vista of opportunities was opened for new entrants into the Meetings Africa conference while the frequent exhibitors and buyers consolidated on previous ideals ditto opening new chapter in reinventing trendy services to encourage and build renewed patronage.For most foreign exhibitors and international buyers, the event was a network booster as it has not only started yielding positive result, but also expanded the multilateral contact of their business, while the home based exhibitors and trade partners said the platform is a two-way business forum to facilitate and maximize the potentials of the global tourism.What people say about Meetings AfricaIt is a brand awareness for Starwood -MwenjeFor the Assistant of Director of Sales, Four Point by Sheraton, Lagos, Miss Filda Mwenje, it was a beautiful outing for the Starwood brand of hotels across the world because of the mileage it accorded to their brands.According to Mwenje, For me, coming to Meetings Africa was my first time from Nigeria. So when I came and Starwood was here, Nigeria is present, North Africa, East Africa and of course Southern Africa. For us, it was a great opportunity because there is more and more businesses coming from South Africa and international buyers are here in Meetings Africa. For Starwood as a group, we need to show our presence and definitely sell us across the continent because we have quite many hotels, so it made sense for us to be present at such an event.I think for us, first of all, its the presence, for a brand, you could be good but if people do not know you, then, it does not really count. For instance, people who recognise and use our brand in the Gambia but do not know that we have brand across Africa were availed the opportunity at the event.For us it was a great asset for brand awareness and presence for all our customers, not just in Africa, but also across the world. I mean like buyers in North America and Europe who patronise us there and now integrating into Africa.Being the first time, meetings Africa was a good one and the interesting aspect of the event was the matchmaking innovation added to it.  Meetings Africa is big leverage for tourism businessGGSK Partnership.For the Chief Executive Officer, CGSK Partnership and Development Limited, Mr  Chikezie Osuagwu, This is my first time of attending Meetings Africa and from what I have seen and experienced, I will come again.The event has offered us a wide range of opportunities to network with service providers and also created more avenues for us to interact with other partners and seal deals on variation of area of interest where our services could benefit each other.The platform offered the South Africa Tourism is a big leverage for participants at the Meetings Africa conference going by its profile boosting trend on our exhibitors, trade partners and international buyers.We had a wonderful time at Meetings Africa and also there are many lessons which will be useful back home in Nigeria. The industry is multifarious in nature and that was the offering in Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.Its an eye opener for tourism stakeholders Dvine Tour BrokersEncouraging the organisers to make the event bigger so as to actualise its full potentiality, the Chief Executive Officer, Dvine Tour Brokers, Mr Olumuyiwa Salami, said that an event with such a magnitude and prospect should be expanded and promoted to attract more participation in future.We had a good number of international and local sellers and buyers and the different contacts made at the event will enrich our business prospects internationally while boosting Africa ditto Nigeria as a tourists destination.The experience at the Meetings Africa was impressive as it did not only promote South African Tourism alone, but also opened new vista of opportunities for us to explore internationally and back home in Nigeria. For the few days spent at the event there were big advantage content prospect for tourism businesses.Meetings Africa has exceptional advantage to buyers American Express Travel On the impact of the event on the trade partners, the Operations Director, American Express Travel Services, Mr Kazeem  Alabi, said it would go a long way to assisting the trade partners in marketing South Africa  Tourism products and services from the particular end.I think it is similar to what is obtainable at the WorldTravel Market (WTM) in London, but the only difference is that we are being obliged to attending series of meetings and which implies that when you are  coming to Meetings Africa Conference, you have to know what you are doing. So going by what is on ground, I felt it will have a positive impact on our tourism business.During the three-day event, we met different tourism promoters offering different innovative tourism products and services to explore and build upon. However, we were able to liaise with them to know what and how they do their business and how we could benefit to advance in our tourism packages.On directing traffic to Nigeria, Alabi disclosed that Meetings Africa has given him a new direction and diversification in tourism services. With the few network and contacts I have made, I have entered into synergy with Legend Lodges, Hotels and Resort on packaging of golf tourism and they are positive on assisting us. Also, there are plans on taking students and people who have health problems on medical tourism.
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