Cape Town has once again ranked as the top city for hosting international association meetings in Africa, according to the 2019 International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Statistics Report, with a total of 48 meetings taking place in the Mother City in 2019. The city has also climbed five places in the international rankings list moving from number 63 to 58 worldwide.
In addition, Stellenbosch hosted 9 international association meetings during this time.
The accolade is celebrated alongside the announcement that Cape Town and the Western Cape Convention Bureau exceeded targets again securing 46 new business events against a target of 26 for the region, totaling an estimated R900 million economic impact into Cape Town and the Western Cape for the 2019/ 2020 Financial Year.
Acknowledging the assistance of the South African National Convention Bureau in securing the numerous bid wins, Corne Koch, Head of the Bureau, commented: “During the past ten years (2010-2019), Cape Town has hosted 483 international association conferences. Subjects have mainly included the medical sciences, education and technology sectors. It is promising to see our team attracting flagship conferences in these sectors, welcoming top professionals and experts from around the globe. With the restriction of travel due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, we are continuously checking in with event planners – urging them to postpone instead of cancel future planned events. Our industry faces a trying few months however, tourism is a resilient sector and will no doubt emerge stronger when we are able to travel for both leisure and business again.”
A highlight for the financial year included the unit securing an estimated R96 million economic impact through a major bid win – the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences – secured for September 2022. The bid, submitted in conjunction with Pharmaceutical Society of South Africa, will attract an estimated 3,000 delegates over five days. This will be only the second time in FIP’s 110-year history that they will gather pharmacy professionals from all over the world on the African continent. The congress will create a global platform for local pharmacists to be exposed to the latest developments in their profession and provide a benchmark for their own practice standards and innovation against pharmacists from all over the globe.
Another key win for the unit was securing the 28th World Congress of Nuclear Physics for 2022. The congress is expected to attract approximately 1 000 delegates over a five day period, with an estimated economic impact of R32 million. iThemba LABS, a facility of the National Research Foundation (NRF), believes the conference will boost developments in the sector while advancing knowledge and health of the people of Africa. This conference will provide a pivotal step towards establishing the African continent as a major global contributor to the science.
Furthermore, the team also participated in the delegate-boosting activation for the World Congress of Immunology, which will take place in Cape Town in 2022, set to attract an estimated 5 000 delegates with an estimated economic impact of R190 million.
Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier said: “This continued recognition by the ICCA proves that Cape Town truly is a world-class destination for business and conference tourism. I’d like to thank all who work in this sector for their efforts in maintaining this high standard. While we face challenging times for the sector, we are already seeing great examples of adaptation and innovation and we will continue to work hard to support the sector to open safely and responsibly where possible.”
Alderman James Vos, Mayco member for Economic Opportunities in the City of Cape Town said, “The thousands of delegates that conventions and conferencing bring in to Cape Town also support upstream and linked industries such as food and beverage, accommodation and transportation. That is why the City funds the Convention Bureau within Wesgro, to ensure we secure more of these events for the benefit of the city’s economy and her people. In my engagements with the management Century City Conference Centre this morning and the Cape Town International Convention Centre last week we discussed the need for adaptation and well as innovation in this important sector. We also discussed the future of this industry and what support the City can offer. As part of my Department’s Place Marketing strategy we are developing a programme to secure Cape Town’s position as the premier location for conventions and conferences for now and the future and I am glad that some signs of recovery are starting to show.”
Commenting on the success of the Bureau, Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris, commented: “Cape Town has been the top performing city on the African continent in hosting the most amount of international association meetings for the past 11 years. The Bureau, along with key stakeholders, has significantly contributed in promoting the destination as the premier location for hosting business events. It is no small feat to attract the large scale, premium conferences secured by the Bureau this year. We are immensely proud of their breaking efforts, and we look forward to pioneering, along with our partners, a safe and responsible way for conferencing and events to commence in the province post-COVID.”