Conferencing a boost to tourism

With an estimated 1.3 million people attending conferences and events in the Mother City, the sector stands to have a “huge impact on the economy of the Central City”.

This was recently highlighted at a Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) business breakfast, held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).

In the financial year ending June last year, the CTICC hosted over 416 000 delegates at over 480 events. Figures released by the CTICC indicate that for that year it generated R216m in revenue and R47m in after-tax profits, contributed R3.7bn to the national economy and sustained 7824 jobs. In the year prior to this, the CTICC generated around R210m.

The CTICC’s expansion was opened at the beginning of this year, adding even more facilities to the basket of conferencing and event facilities.

In a speech at full council in January, Mayor Patricia de Lille announced the opening by saying: “The CTICC 2 is a significant contributor to the City’s efforts to boost Cape Town’s reputation as a globally competitive business events destination and will enhance the socio-economic benefits the centre produces.

“Apart from bringing business tourism from all over the world, through its operations the centre has sustained a total of 107 000 jobs directly in the Western Cape and nationally since opening.”

But conferencing goes further than just the big venues, and has been consistently generating revenue for the province over the last several years.

Wegro – the Cape’s tourism, trade and investment promotion agency – estimates that in 2016 alone, events and conferences secured by the agency contributed a total of R374.1m to the Cape’s economy.

It is estimated that tourists visiting South Africa for business in 2015 spent R42bn in the country, based on a three-year study. The study also found that the USA was South Africa’s biggest source market for business tourists, accounting for 12.5% of total arrivals. Other significant markets included the UK, Nigeria and Turkey.

CCID communications manager Carola Koblitz and author of the annual The State of Cape Town Central City Report, says the figures obtained by the CCID in 2013 indicated around 1.3 million conference and events participants were recorded: 830 000 by the City of Cape Town, and around 520 000 by the CTICC.

However, finding accurate statistics on attendance for the last few years has proved to be a challenge, Koblitz said at the event.

She added that many of the facilities catering for events and conferences have previously been unmapped.

Koblitz says: “When we compiled the 2017 edition of The State of Cape Town Central City Report, we already realised that the conferencing and events industry had a huge impact on the economy of the Central City, both in terms of the volumes of delegates/visitors that can be accommodated just in CTICC 1 and 2, but also through the many notifications we receive daily as the CCID in terms of events and conferences happening in other venues in the CBD. On top of this, the CCID gets many calls each year asking us to advise on available venues that we know of, so we thought it would be a useful exercise for our Central City stakeholders to research and plot all the possible venues in the Central City.”

The CCID team was “astonished to discover” that there are a total of 61 under-roof establishments (including the CTICC) with a total between them of 310 venue configurations­.

“Altogether, they can accommodate 71 592 people, with the Castle of Good Hope being the third largest with a capacity of 9830 people. So what we have done with our research and mapping of the many different venues and the numbers they can accommodate was not done so much for promotional purposes but rather to state the facts and have a workable, comprehensive index of what’s on offer in the Central City.”