JOHANNESBURG, 27 February 2023 – Meetings Africa 2023 kicked off into high gear today at Sandton Convention Centre with the Business Opportunity Networking Day (BONDAy), which featured tourism industry experts, disruptors, and data specialists.
BONDay is an educational opportunity for newbies and seasoned campaigners in the tourism sector to share ideas, engage and collaborate. The overarching motif for this year’s BONDay is centred around storytelling, with renowned storyteller and poet, Gcina Mhlophe setting the scene for delegates with an authentically African story.
Keynote speaker, Deputy Minister of Tourism Fish Mahlalela emphasised the importance of collaboration to fast-track development in Africa.
“We must explore potential areas of collaboration and partnerships in the African convention and exhibition industry to achieve globally benchmarked standards,” said Mahlalela.
“Meetings Africa is a trade show that brings the African continent’s business events, products and offerings under a single roof, with a specific focus on SMMEs and their value chain to the entire tourism sector,” Mahlalela explained.
This year, Meetings Africa has improved access for SMMEs to the trade show by introducing the “plug and meet” pavilion, which offers full access at a reduced rate. This package includes 20 SMMEs. Additionally, 45 SMMEs will showcase at the event.
BONDay also included the first African edition of the International Association of Convetion Centres (AIPC) Summit, as well as the standing feature which is the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Association Day.
BONDay delegates were spoiled for choice, with over 30 experts across four stages tackling current industry challenges and ideating towards innovative sollutions to propel the industry and the continent.
The Deputy Minister applauded the South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB) for securing 34 of the 79 bids for international meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions for the first three quarters of the year. The secured bids are estimated to contribute R288-million to the South African economy between 2022 and 2025.
Speaking on the seating arrangement, Acting Chief Convention Bureau Officer Zinhle Nzama said it was designed to create a cosy and inviting atmosphere reminiscent of traditional fireside chats of yore in line with a new logo.
Nzama explained that repurposed drums served as both seats and tables, adding a rustic touch to the design. “Multi-colored cushions with Ndebele print were used for added comfort and to celebrate the cultural heritage of the Ndebele people. The hall was further enhanced with multi-coloured pouffes and mini desks,” she added.