Spreading the benefits of hosting conferences

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Spreading the benefits of hosting conferences

In its continued efforts to assist the business events sector's recovery, and encouraging corporates and professional associations to meet again, the South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB) has launched the National Association Project. It aims to spread the economic benefits of hosting conferences and meetings in smaller towns and villages.

According to Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, Chief Convention Bureau Officer of the SANCB, the National Association Project plays a key role in assisting both the local association sector and the provinces.

“It assists the local association sector by enabling them to start hosting regular national conferences again and, in future, to be able to host international conventions and meetings while at the same time capacitating the provinces to host national association conferences in less-visited places across the country.”

Aims of the project:

  • To ensure regional spread by assisting the national associations to host their meetings and conferences in Villages Townships and Small Dorpies (VTSDs) across all nine provinces in South Africa. 
  • Bidding capacity building: Developing a bid support programme and system for National Association meetings and conferences.
  • Infrastructure development: Assist VTSDs across South Africa to develop their meeting and conferencing infrastructure by bidding for National Association Meetings and Conferences.
  • Pre- and post-tours: Promote tourism experiences (pre- and post-tour packages for delegates and accompanying person programme) in VTSDs that can be marketed to delegates by local SMMEs, contributing to domestic tourism.
  • Procurement: Incentivise the procurement of conferencing goods and services from local service providers in VTSDs.

Kotze-Nhlapo said South Africa had a well-established professional and trade association industry spanning various sectors, many of which were linked to or were members of international professional and trade associations as part of their international or regional affiliation.

These national associations are therefore eligible to bid for the hosting rights of meetings and conferences organised by international or regional organisations.

“By partnering with such associations to host national conferences, we are able to tap into their international or regional affiliation, to secure future business events’ bidding opportunities for South Africa,” said Kotze-Nhlapo.

She explained that the qualifying associations had to follow strict qualifying criteria to prove their eligibility to host their conference. Key to these criteria is the duration of the conference, where the conference or meeting must be a minimum of two full days.

The criteria further stipulate that the conference days must be held before or after a weekend to enable pre- and post-conference tours (taking a Shot’ left before or after the conference) and must offer an accompanying person programme (encouraging attending delegates to bring their partner, family or friend) in order to secure more visitors to the township, village or small town and to create demand for domestic travel.

Kotze-Nhlapo added: "The National Association Project is just one way we, as an organisation, can ensure that we give confidence to our national associations to trust VTSDs with their meetings and business events. We look for ways to shift the focus from frequently visited destinations to those that are less visited. This will go a long way in assisting the sector to recover post the pandemic as we gear up to host more international and regional events and conferences.”

Some of the past and upcoming events under the National Association Project:

  • GBFS National Conference 2021 (Girls & Boys Friendly Society), which took place from September 30 to October 2 at Gariep in the Free State.
  • Environmental Assessment Practitioners Association of South Africa, taking place from in Phokeng, North West. Dates to follow.
  • LGBT+ Travel Symposium, venue and dates to be confirmed.

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