World Africa Day: Business Tourism Driving Africa's Economic Growth

Published: Tuesday, May 30, 2023

TourismEconomyEntertainment VarietyExhibitions & EventsSocial

The events industry in Africa has experienced substantial growth, playing a crucial role in driving economic development. This growth has attracted foreign investors who recognize the immense potential and untapped opportunities in business tourism in Africa. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), business travel and tourism in Africa are projected to grow at an annual rate of 7.6% by 2028.

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Despite challenges such as underrepresentation in global trade, rolling blackouts, poor reputation, digital divides, and poverty, the events industry in Africa remains resilient and continuously seeks solutions to address local challenges through the transformative power of business tourism.

Devi Paulsen-Abbott, Chairperson of AAXO, acknowledges the innovative solutions adopted by African countries to overcome events industry challenges. Infrastructure development has been a key focus, with governments investing in state-of-the-art convention centers, exhibition spaces, and accommodation facilities. These efforts aim to enhance the continent's capacity to host large-scale events and conferences, attracting foreign investment.

In addition to infrastructure development, African countries are heavily investing in promoting their regions as desirable destinations for business travelers. Farirai Nandipa Mabodza, Managing Director of Farirai Nandipa Events in Zimbabwe, highlights the Zimbabwean government's efforts to promote MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) tourism. They hope to connect external organizers with the Zimbabwean events space and position Zimbabwe as a destination for business events.

Collaboration and partnerships are vital for the development of the business tourism sector in Africa. Projeni Pather, Managing Director at Exposure Marketing and immediate past-Chair of AAXO, emphasizes the importance of finding local partners who understand the economic, cultural, and social nuances of the market. These partners should have access to excellent resources and venues, along with insights into securing funding, sponsors, and industry partnerships for successful exhibitions.

Improvements in accessibility, such as visa restrictions and market access, have also been made in recent years. Countries like Rwanda and Kenya have implemented e-visa systems, simplifying the visa application process and making it more accessible for international visitors. Mabodza highlights the vast market opportunity in Africa, allowing foreign investors to use events such as tradeshows and exhibitions to market their products to the continent.

Africa's emerging markets offer a wealth of opportunities, and the exhibition and events industry serves as a platform for investors and visitors to tap into these opportunities. It encompasses social development, sustainability, business growth, knowledge transfer, diversification, and channel growth. With its untapped market, cultural diversity, and heritage, Africa's events industry leaves visitors wanting to return for more, fostering economic growth and international recognition.

Business tourism has emerged as a powerful driver of economic growth in Africa. By attracting international conferences, exhibitions, and corporate events, countries can showcase their business potential and attract foreign direct investment. The influx of business tourists stimulates the local economy, generating revenue for various sectors such as hotels, restaurants, and transportation services. Additionally, business tourism promotes the growth of local industries by facilitating collaboration between local suppliers, service providers, and international businesses. This, in turn, benefits SMEs by exposing them to global markets, encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation.

The events industry in Africa has confronted the continent's unique challenges head-on, leveraging business tourism to drive economic growth. Through innovative solutions, collaboration, and knowledge sharing, African countries have positioned themselves as attractive destinations for conferences and corporate events. As the industry continues to flourish, Africa is poised to experience sustained economic development and gain international recognition.

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