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Cape eyes R1bn bounty if postponed conferences eventually go ahead

23 July 2020 - 15:11 By Aron Hyman
The Cape Town International Convention Centre has been repurposed as a Covid-19 field hospital, and there is optimism that postponed events due to be held there will go ahead in the next two years.
The Cape Town International Convention Centre has been repurposed as a Covid-19 field hospital, and there is optimism that postponed events due to be held there will go ahead in the next two years.
Image: cticc via Google

Only 11.9% of international conferences scheduled to be held in the Western Cape have been cancelled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

And the economy could gain R183m if planned events take place later this year.

The events and conference industry in the province has taken an estimated R163m knock from the cancellations and events moving online.

But Western Cape tourism and business body Wesgro said on Thursday it was encouraged that most international organisations planning meetings in the province had taken heed of pleas to postpone rather than cancel.

Wesgro CEO Tim Harris said more than R1bn would still flow into the economy through events scheduled to take place into 2022.

A survey by the Western Cape Convention Bureau, part of Wesgro, and the City of Cape Town found that decisions had not yet been made on 15% of the 126 international conferences scheduled for 2020/2021, while 66% had been postponed.

“The 126 conferences surveyed were estimated to contribute close to R1.9bn to the local economy over the course of 449 days - the sum of days the events spanned, with just over 71,000 estimated delegates expected to attend,” said Wesgro.

Harris added: “Despite the impact Covid-19 has had on our local tourism economy, it is promising to see that the international association conferences sector responded positively to our plea to postpone instead of cancel, to help keep tourism alive.”

He said 92% of the postponed conferences were scheduled to take place within a year, with the rest moved to 2022.

Most respondents in the survey expected local and national exhibitions to resume this year, and international exhibitions next year.

Cape Town mayoral committee member for economic opportunities James Vos said reopening travel and tourism were the key to the city’s economic recovery.

"That is why I continue to call for the unfettered reopening of travel and tourism sectors. The meetings, incentive travel offered by international businesses, conferences and events industry is, and will remain, a key industry in our city and is central to our economic recovery, because this sector also supports upstream and linked industries such as food and beverage, accommodation and transportation,” said Vos.

“From my recent visits to a number of conference venues to look at their state of readiness, I can confirm that they are ready to safely reopen.”

© TimesLIVE


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