Busi­ness Tourism in Africa Con­tin­ues to Ex­pand

Per­cep­tions of Africa as a busi­ness des­ti­na­tion have changed vastly in re­cent times. The ICCA 2016 rank­ings re­veal that Africa is grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity as a des­ti­na­tion for busi­ness tourism.

Tourism Tattler - - EDITORIAL - By Zan­dre Cam­pos. About the au­thor: Zan­dre Cam­pos is chair­man and CEO of ABO Cap­i­tal, an in­ter­na­tional in­vest­ment firm that in­vests in com­pa­nies in the health­care, en­ergy, trans­porta­tion, hos­pi­tal­ity, tech­nol­ogy and real es­tate sec­tors through­out Africa.

It has been per­ceived that do­ing busi­ness or host­ing events in Africa can be com­pli­cated. How­ever, there has been a re­cent boom in both con­fer­ences and large sport­ing events, which has im­proved busi­ness tourism sig­nif­i­cantly. While Africa is not as pop­u­lar as other coun­tries, like the UAE or the UK, they do have top-notch venues and spec­tac­u­lar stays for vis­i­tors. Coun­tries through­out Africa of­fer a sur­plus of op­por­tu­ni­ties to host busi­ness con­fer­ences and tourism has be­come a cru­cial com­po­nent of Africa's econ­omy.

The In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion As­so­ci­a­tion (ICCA) re­cently an­nounced the 2016 rank­ings for in­ter­na­tional busi­ness meet­ings and many African coun­tries were in­cluded on the list. The ICCA in Africa has about 39 mem­ber or­ga­ni­za­tions in over 9 coun­tries and over the past few years, Africa's rank­ings have im­proved. Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est ICCA rank­ing of Africa, South Africa, Morocco and Rwanda are the high­est ranked meet­ing, in­cen­tive, con­fer­ence and event (MICE) des­ti­na­tions in Africa. In ad­di­tion, the high­est ranked cities are Cape Town, Mar­rakesh, and Ki­gali.

With mag­nif­i­cent sites and views, South Africa, specif­i­cally the city of Cape Town, has had great suc­cess with busi­ness tourism. Cur­rently, Cape Town is ranked in the top 40 des­ti­na­tions for busi­ness tourism in the world and has gone up 15 places on that rank­ing in a short amount of time. There have been about 62 meet­ings in Cape Town re­lat­ing to a va­ri­ety of top­ics such as ed­u­ca­tion, tech­nol­ogy, and med­i­cal sciences and it is pre­dicted to grow even more in the fu­ture.

The coun­try of Morocco has had a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease of busi­ness tourism and is ranked the sec­ond high­est by the ICCA. Re­cently, the city of Mar­rakesh was named one of the most pop­u­lar travel des­ti­na­tions in the world, ac­cord­ing to Trip Ad­vi­sor be­cause of its charm­ing cul­ture and wel­com­ing hos­pi­tal­ity. Ac­cord­ing to the ICCA rank­ing of 2016, there were 37 meet­ings in Morocco and 19 in the city of Mar­rakesh. With new ideas and strate­gies to in­crease tourism, Morocco hopes to in­crease busi­ness tourism through the pro­mo­tion of the coun­try's cul­ture, lo­ca­tions, and sus­tain­abil­ity even more than be­fore.

With its cur­rent third place rank­ing, Rwanda has im­proved its rank­ing sig­nif­i­cantly since 2014, when it ranked 13th. With the re­cent ad­di­tion of 5-star ho­tels, in­clud­ing the Radis­son Blu and Mar­riott Ki­gali, busi­ness tourism has sky­rock­eted. Ad­di­tion­ally, the English and French speak­ing coun­try of Rwanda is ranked the ninth safest coun­try glob­ally for tourists. The cap­i­tal city of Ki­gali was ranked third and it is the lo­ca­tion of the first Mar­riot Ho­tel in Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa. Mar­riot Ki­gali con­sists of 254 rooms and 10 con­fer­ence halls, con­tribut­ing to the in­crease in space for con­fer­ences. In ad­di­tion, a re­cent re­port from the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum shows that Rwanda's in­ter­na­tional tourist ar­rivals are at 987,000 and in­ter­na­tional tourism in­bound re­ceipts are at $317.8 mil­lion.

There are many other coun­tries with dis­tinct cul­tures and ex­pe­ri­ences that are also tourism-ready economies to host busi­ness con­fer­ences. Ad­di­tion­ally, lan­guages that are spo­ken in each coun­try will help de­ter­mine the best fit for busi­nesses. Con­ven­tions head­quar­tered in the UK will most likely go to English speak­ing coun­tries in Africa in­clud­ing South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Nige­ria, and Rwanda. Events from France would typ­i­cally go to the French speak­ing coun­tries of the Repub­lic of the Congo, the Ivory Coast and Rwanda. Those from Por­tu­gal will go to coun­tries where Por­tuguese is spo­ken, such as An­gola, Mozam­bique and Cape Verde.

By look­ing at ICCA's re­cent rank­ings and the over­all im­prove­ments of coun­tries in Africa, it is ev­i­dent that Africa is a great place to host busi­ness con­fer­ences. Africa has the po­ten­tial to be one of the most pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions for busi­ness tourism and will con­tinue to im­prove on their rank­ing.

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