by Tia

KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) returned from Meetings Africa pleased that it had bagged a conference for later this year, had many leads to follow for future conferences and had met buyers from new destinations while deepening relationships with others.

Acting CEO for Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN), Mr. Sibusiso Gumbi, said the KZN Convention Bureau (KZNCB), KZN destinations marketing organisations and convention centres had done a sterling job in selling the province and pitching for more conferences to come to KZN.

Gumbi said it was important that the province was represented at Meetings Africa 2024, which was solidifying its status as the continent’s premier business events trade show. This year, the flagship MICE exhibition was attended by 380 exhibiting companies from 21 African countries and hundreds of local and international buyers.

For KZN, the event was two days of back-to-back meetings with buyers from the province’s main source markets UK, USA, France, Netherlands and South Africa, as well as other countries such as the Philippines, Austria, Canada, Nigeria, Kenya, Singapore, and Russia which are potential future new markets.

Cheryl Peters, Executive Manager: Investment Promotion & Marketing, Enterprise iLembe said that the two days had been a success especially as they, with the help of the KZNCB, had secured the 5th Urban Agri World Summit for Ballito in September.

“We had two-full days of quality meetings with buyers from SADC and across the world. It can take years to build a relationship and it is therefore important to be seen year after year at these events. This builds confidence with buyers.

Peters pointed out that often meetings were more about creating awareness about KwaZulu-Natal and iLembe’s as a destination, the direct air access to Durban provided by airlines Emirates, Qatar and Turkish Airways and the warm climate all of which are big selling points.”

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s representatives Mfundo Ntsele and Nomusa Chamane who were offering buyers berg, beach, and bush experiences for their conferences, said they had a productive exhibition. Buyers from the UK and France were keen to bring conferences to KZN in 2025 and planned to return later this year to do site visits of Ezemvelo’s conference and restaurant facilities at Didima, Hilltops, Giants Castle and Ntshondwa resorts. There were also many other leads which they would be following up on, in the coming weeks.

Durban’s Olive Convention Centre Sales Director, Anee Ramiah, said they were also returning with three to four site visits to plan.

Pretty Olifant, President of hot toffee communications, a marketing communications/professional conference organiser attending Meetings Africa for the first time, said the event had been amazing. She had made many good connections and was leaving with projects in the bag. “I met with event organisers from Namibia, USA, Rawanda, Spain, Brazil, China and SA’s Freedom Park with which we will be doing a lot of work in the future.

Post Meetings Africa, the KZNCB will be hosting international buyers from the USA, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Azerbaijan, on a tour of Durban and the South Coast.  Post tours provide interested international buyers with an opportunity to experience the destination and its conference venues first hand.

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