Tourism and trade to reignite Africa’s economy
An ongoing trade floor in the South African city of Johannesburg has been poised to stir up Africa’s economy that has been battered by the covid-19 pandemic through creating opportunities for trade and tourism within the continent.
The event organises by Meetings Africa kicked off on 1st March at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg and is the 16th edition of Africa’s premier business events show which is a flagship of the South African National Conventions Bureau (SANCB).
The event brought together about 161 buyers and 216 exhibitors from 13 African countries.
Speaking at the event’s opening, South African tourism minister Lindiwe Sisulu said that Meetings Africa presented an opportunity to collectively review and realign the continents business events by increasing interconnectedness of both trade and tourism.
“Opening trade corridors across the continent must also open pathways for intra-African tourism to thrive, and vice versa. It is us, the African business events sector that have to be intentional and strategic in ensuring that we leverage this mutual benefit between trade and tourism,” Sisulu said.
She called upon the business events industry to accelerate progress because it is a platform for sharing information and collective engagement a move which in turn results in innovation and re-invention, both key for economic and professional development and advancement.
According Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, the SANCB’s Chief Conventions Bureau Officer, Meetings Africa regional buyers through Meetings Africa ought to align with South Africa’s tourism industry recovery plan, which focuses on domestic and regional recovery first.
International buyers will then be reintroduced to Africa as the Covid travel restrictions are eased.
“Platforms like these allow us to come together as Africa. In our sector, while we are in competition, we are also in co-operation. And then of course, we need to build on our brand together, go out there and tell the world that Africa is ready,” Kotze-Nhlapo said.
She added that African countries bidding to attract international events can be a tool that could encourage collaborative efforts among African countries, with an opportunity to rotate meetings among each other.
“After two years of shutting our imaginary national borders to each other, now is the time to allow for a freedom of movement. Sharing minds and economies does not mean we sit behind our desks and stare at each other through screens. It means being able to travel from one place to another freely so as to create and grow relationships,” Kotze-Nhlapo said.
According to Kotze-Nhlapo, Africa can start the business events economy rolling by using the African Continental Free Trade Area (AcFTA) as a springboard to achieving a shared economy. The AcFTA was signed into existence in 2018 and was effectively underway in January 2021. It will push all African countries towards greater collaboration with each other so as to boost trade and tourism.