Until Covid-19 struck, Africa’s tourism sector experienced an average growth of 5%, causing disruption for the global economy and to the tourism sector specifically. Now, it’s vital for Africa’s tourism sector to have a strong MICE sector.
Over the past two to three years, partnerships and collaboration within the tourism sector have been crucial in accelerating its recovery. In Africa, tourism has the power to transform lives and offer incredible opportunities to build sustainable and inclusive economies and societies. According to United Nations Secretary Antonio Guterres, tourism can provide decent jobs that work for everyone.
The recovery of the tourism sector is well underway. Based on the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) forward-looking scenarios for 2023, international tourist arrivals could reach 80% to 95% of pre-pandemic levels this year. The latest UNWTO barometer shows that Africa has already recovered about 65% of pre-pandemic levels, a positive omen that needs to be maintained and further supported with appropriate policies.
MICE Potential in Africa: Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainable Tourism Growth
The Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) sector is one of the fastest-growing global tourism industries and can help sustain Africa’s tourism sector. With its enormous benefits and ROI, MICE could be a goldmine for the industry with some effort and investment. The global MICE industry is estimated to be worth around US$650 billion to US$700 billion, and Africa’s market share is forecasted to be a paltry 2%.
Several African countries expressed the intent of making MICE a core pillar in their development agenda and have put governance structures in place to get it going. From the growing list of convention bureaus to a dedicated desk for MICE/Business events, countries like Uganda, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, and Zambia have made commitments to MICE. Powerhouses such as South Africa, Morocco, and Rwanda have been pace-setters in consolidating and growing their market share of the pie.
To accelerate movement and trade to grow African economies, there needs to be a paradigm shift from the current situation to an efficient and smart way of doing things. Artificial bottlenecks hampering movement and trade in the region need to be eliminated. The recent 2022 Africa visa openness report by the African Development Bank indicates improved visa facilitation across the continent. Still, more needs to be done to achieve the “Africa we want” agenda’s objectives. According to Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, human mobility is a key component of Africa’s integration efforts. There is a greater need for free movement to be linked with regional value chains, investments, and trade, as well as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Meetings Africa 2023: A Vital Platform for the Business Events Industry in Africa
Meetings Africa, a platform created by South African Tourism, has been instrumental in mobilizing the business events industry in Africa and providing support and knowledge to help grow this significant market segment. In its 17th year, the event sees the highest number of African participants, signaling a surge in the appreciation of Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) by decision-makers to drive the continent’s economy.
African Exhibitors at Meetings Africa 2023 – Three hundred and five exhibitors from 15 African countries, including Botswana, Eswatini, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Seychelles, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Malawi, and Mozambique, have confirmed their participation at Meetings Africa 2023. The event will provide them with the opportunity to interact with thousands of buyers from around the world, fostering trade and economic growth.
The Public Sector’s Profound Endorsement – The private sector-led industry requires the profound endorsement of the public sector, encouraging the provision of necessary infrastructure to meet the demands of hosting small to mega events, thus creating jobs for many in the ecosystem. According to South African Tourism Acting CEO Themba Khumalo, the increase in African exhibitors is a testament to the recognition of the business events industry’s vital role in driving the continent’s economy.
Insightful Sessions at Meetings Africa 2023 – Meetings Africa 2023 will provide insightful sessions across all three days, with speakers focusing on creating a positive African narrative, the future of meetings, and the challenges business events face due to a lack of airlift in Africa. According to industry expert Sean Mendis, if actionable measures are implemented to create synergies among stakeholders and realize air travel objectives, Africa’s destinations could become more accessible and airlines more competitive as the aviation sector recovers this year.
Sustainability at Meetings Africa 2023 – Aside from offering the perfect avenue to trade and sign deals, Meetings Africa 2023 will showcase the many novelties and innovations developed by African entrepreneurs and groups to make businesses seamless and spur growth. As an imperative to developing a robust MICE sector, the ability to be sustainable on all fronts will be displayed during the Sandton show.
Meetings Africa 2023, held at the Sandton Convention Centre from 27 February to 1 March, will bring 350 exhibitors and more than 1,000 buyers to the trading floor. Collaborating with all key stakeholders to create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive will be essential in making tourism a transformative force for good in Africa.
The Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) sector is vital for Africa’s tourism industry, and it has the potential to transform the continent’s economy and societies sustainably and inclusively. The African continent has made significant progress in recovering its tourism sector, and the upcoming Meetings Africa 2023 event presents an opportunity to showcase African entrepreneurs’ and groups’ novelties and innovations to spur growth in the industry. Collaboration among all key stakeholders, including the public and private sectors, is necessary to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive and make tourism a transformative force for good in Africa. By investing in the MICE sector and making it a core pillar in their development agenda, African countries can unlock its enormous benefits and potential for growth and contribute to the continent’s economic and social development.
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