How time is flying, the first quarter of the year is almost gone and Easter is upon us. For those of you who will be travelling please be safe on the roads and please wear your seatbelt.
Meetings Africa 2014 was very successful. Our members that attended as share exhibitors were Arcadia Hotel, Manhattan Hotel, National Pretoria Zoo and Ditsong. A lot of new business opportunities were generated from exhibiting at Meetings Africa.
INDABA is the single biggest and best opportunity on the African continent for everybody who does business with the African travel and tourism industry.
Based on international trade show best practice, INDABA will this year, for the first time, introduce an exciting new format by launching a new Premium Lounge. INDABA is set to migrate over the next few years from double-storey stands to a beautifully appointed studio configuration.
South African Tourism is directing additional efforts towards the top international travel trade buyers who have expressed or demonstrated their eagerness to make Africa an important and valuable component of their businesses. These influential travel trade buyers have direct responsibility of uncovering products from Africa. The purpose of the new Premium Lounge zone will be to fast-track the focus of INDABA back to deal-making, giving premium exhibitors an area perfectly equipped to accommodate their meetings with buyers.
If you are interested in exhibiting at Indaba as a sharing exhibitor on the TTA stand please contact Charlene on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Gautrain network is to be extended to areas including Soweto, Sunninghill, and Fourways.
These and other plans were announced by Ismail Vadi, Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport, last week. Vadi added that capacity on the Gautrain would also be boosted in the coming months.
According to the announcement, the extensions are expected to take more than 24 months. The proposed rail network include a link from Gautrain Park Station to Westgate in the Johannesburg CDB; a link from the existing Gautrain Sandton Station to Randburg and Honeydew; and a link from Rhodesfield Station to Boksburg; and a link from Naledi in Soweto to Mamelodi.
The link between Naledi and Mamelodi will be via either the proposed Gautrain Samrand Station or the existing Gautrain Midrand Station. This extension will also include stations at Blue Hills, Sunninghill, Fourways, Cosmo City and Ruimsig.
Vadi said the Gautrain system was under pressure due to increased demand and that capacity would be increased in the short to medium term. This includes adding a seventh eight-car train during the morning peak within the next three months as well as reconfiguring the service's seating plan to accommodate more passengers in the next six to nine months.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's National Budget has been criticised for not allocating sufficient funds to unlock the growth potential of the tourism sector.
Advisory services firm Grant Thornton expressed disappointment at the budget allocations announced for SA Tourism in particular, while Danny Bryer, Director of Sales, Marketing and Revenue for the Protea Hospitality Group, said tourism could not live up to its full potential with the current level of government funding.
Martin Jansen van Vuuren, Director of Grant Thornton Public Sector Advisory, said SA Tourism's allocation increased by 2.6%. He pointed out that this was half the country's current inflation rate, which meant SA Tourism would effectively have less budget than previously. "As a result, South Africa's international tourism marketing efforts could suffer," he said.
Both Bryer and Jansen van Vuuren suggested the national budget did not reflect government's recognition of tourism as one of the main drivers of the economy, which was also highlighted in President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address. Jansen van Vuuren pointed out that tourism was not mentioned once in Gordhan's speech.
Bryer called for initiatives aimed at tourism development to be implemented. He said the department announced last year that its expenditure would increase to R1.9 billion as a result of an additional allocation of R319 million for the new Tourism Incentive Programme. "The business plan should now have been drawn up to provide support to SMMEs and, according to the department, it is supposed to be functional in 2014-15," said Bryer. "We hope to see great things flow from this but we need it and other incentive schemes to actually start working on the ground."
"If we're to create an additional 225 000 industry jobs in the next six years as envisaged in the National Development Plan, private enterprise in the sector needs more support from the government than it is currently getting and the support needs to be in the form of partnerships and certainly incentives."
According to Grant Thornton, the total budget allocation to the National Department of Tourism increased by 9.3% in the 2014-15 year and is set to grow at around 12% in the following two years. The firm said SA was ranked at 134 out of 139 countries for government expenditure on travel and tourism in a World Economic Forum (WEF) report.
"Unfortunately, if one considers this poor ranking in the WEF Report, coupled with the dismal budget allocations announced in this week's Budget, it is hard to comprehend how we intend to boost tourism and create employment," continued Jansen van Vuuren. "We can only reap what we sow and therefore need to ensure we put more attention towards the tourism sector in order to have any chance of meeting our President's hopes."
This sentiment is echoed by Bryer: "The old adage of having to spend money to make money holds true and we need equal commitment from the government and the private sector if we're to succeed in our collective development goals."
Jansen van Vuuren was, however, positive about the outlook for the sector. "The tourism industry in general is resilient and it is usually the first industry to recover from a global recession," he said, adding that the industry would be able to capitalise on the weakening rand.
The budget was welcomed by the TBCSA, which applauded its focus on the growth and development of SMMEs.
The TBCSA said the increased focus on small business was a step in the right direction and it hoped the Treasury's plan to ease the compliance burden would inspire other regulatory reforms, which would unlock some of the trade barriers affecting businesses in the sector.
"As we mentioned in our commentary on the State of the Nation Address, the rising cost of doing business, and the red tape - mainly around compliance - are amongst the major challenges negatively affecting business," said TBCSA Chief Executive, Mmatšatši Ramawela. "In the case of SMMEs, the challenges are further exacerbated by conditions in the current operating environment where international and domestic demand for both leisure and business travel has slowed down, even in the country's main business centres.
"Overall, we are pleased with the Minister's budget presentation and believe that the focus on SMMEs is good news for the economy," said Ramawela. "After all, SMME growth, in any sector, is a critical component for stimulating economic growth and job creation. We are happy that government finally recognises this and is willing to walk the talk."
Representative business events industry associations have joined forces to professionalise the industry.
The formation of the Council of Event Professionals (CEP) Africa was announced at Meetings Africa today - with founding members the Exhibition and Event Association of Southern Africa (EXSA), the International Festivals and Events Association (IFEA) Africa and the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI).
SAACI National Board Member Glenn van Eck says CEP Africa, which is currently being registered as a Non Profit Company, will create recognised certification for the business events industry and work closely with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).
Four certification levels will apply to individuals who apply, namely Event Coordinator, Event Manager, Event Director and the Convention Industry Council's Certified Meetings Professional.
EXSA will determine which international qualification applies best to the exhibition industry for certification by CEP Africa.
According to van Eck other associations are welcome to join CEP Africa, either as fellow founding members with a financial stake in the body or as non-executive directors. "We encourage them to join us in this bold initiative. It is about making Africa a good event destination."
He says CEP Africa will not certify companies, but courses and individuals. "This will include Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and in this regard we will engage with experts including the Event Management Body of Knowledge Project (EMBOK) and the Canadian Tourism Human Resources Council. RPL requires a portfolio of evidence which includes years of experience, published industry articles and serving on industry bodies.
"SAQA's Directorate for Foreign Qualifications, Evaluations and Advisory Services will assess recommended foreign qualifications against South African standards."
Van Eck says CEP Africa has no intention of being exclusive. Instead it is an honest attempt to lift standards of training where necessary. "The goal is to reach a point where only CEP Africa accredited training courses are opted for and ultimately a requirement for all tenders.
"CEP Africa will enable the industry to approach government with one voice and to ensure industry ownership of its own affairs. We will engage with the industry to determine what is lacking in terms of education and training. Based on this, we will accredit training courses related to all industry sectors, including specialist functions like safety and security."
CEP Africa will appoint voluntary advisory panels, which will advise on certification and Continued Professional Development (CPD) points earned by individuals.
A CEP Africa administrator will be appointed soon, certification fees determined and the body is expected to be operational by the end of the year.
Source: SAACI news release
Entries have opened for the 2014 Lilizela Tourism Awards.
The nine awards are spread over four focus areas: service excellence, entrepreneurship, sustainable development and the Minister's Award. Entries close on May 30 and the overall winners from each category will be announced at a ceremony in September.
In the service excellence section, in addition to accommodation, awards will also be given this year in the categories 'Visitor experience of the year' and 'Tourist guide of the year'. The ETEYA Lilizela Award (Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year Award) will be given for entrepreneurship, recognising black-owned SMMEs that have achieved notable success since starting up.
The three categories of awards for sustainable development are: the Sustainable Tourism, or Imvelo Awards; the Universal Accessibility Award; and the B-BBEE Award.
The Minister's Award will recognise people, events and organisations that shift the industry closer to tourism's 2020 vision of increasing arrivals, creating jobs and contributing to GDP.
"These awards recognise and reward tourism players and businesses that work passionately and with pride to deliver a world-class product and service and whose delivery grows South Africa's global destination competitiveness," said Thulani Nzima, CEO of South African Tourism.
Tshwane businesses are urged to enter the awards in order to showcase the abundance of brilliant tourism products in the City.
For more information or to enter, visit www.lilizela.co.za.
A pair of tigers from The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa has been moved to a temporary new home at the Johannesburg Zoo due to upcoming construction at their mountain enclosure.
The NZG's white tiger, Winston, and his mate, Leia, have been moved to the Johannesburg Zoo and will be housed there for the next six to nine months. Visitors need not worry about not seeing tigers; the NZG's third tiger, Lolo, will still be on display to the public.
The vital revamp of the enclosure starts this month on the three tiger and lion enclosures with the replacement of the fences around the enclosure to make them more animal and visitor-friendly, making the water pools bigger and expanding and modernising the animals' night quarters. The big cats' mountain homes were built in the 1960s. The NZG's lions are to be moved later this month or early next month to the Lion Park in Krugersdorp.
As many of the structures to be renovated are older than 60 years they are considered to be heritage sites. As a result, the relevant structures may be broken down, but only adapted to conform to the current look and feel of the buildings concerned.
The CSIR ICC currently has a vacancy for a Banqueting Supervisor, more information can be found on www.csir.co.za.
Tiles and cement arriving at the TLC Old Age Home: Thanks Bras Trucking and Isiphiwo Lodge
TLC Old Age Home: Thanks St Stithians
Developing a Computer Centre at St Camillus School, Mandela Village, Hammanskraal
Read the March 2014 edition of the National Zoological Garden's online newsletter. Read on
See what hot entertainment is on in the city
WTTC Global Summit, 24-25 April 2014, China
IBTM Africa, 28-30 April 2014, Cape Town
International Luxury Travel Market Africa, 28-30 April 2014, Cape Town
World Travel Market Africa, 2-3 May 2014, Cape Town
Indaba 2014, 10-12 May 2014, Durban
Sustainability Week, 17-19 June 2014, CSIR Convention Centre
6th Intl. Conference on Sustainable Tourism, 8-10 July, Croatia
Annual ICHRIE Summer Conference, 30 July - 1 August, USA
Hotel Investment Conference Africa, 14-16 September 2014, Johannesburg
ITB Asia, 29-31 October, Singapore
World Travel Market (WTM), 3-6 November, UK
UNESCO Forum on Global Citizenship Education (GCE), 2-4 December, Bangkok
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