[iStock by Getty Images via Limpopo Business 2019/20]

Limpopo is undoubtedly on a growth trajectory in respect of business tourism. Evidence of this trend comes in the form of the International Fellowship Evangelical Students (IFES) World Assembly which was held in July 2019 in Bela Bela at ATKV Klein Kariba.

The conference attracted an estimated 1 200 delegates from some 160 countries, who spent about two weeks in the region. The idea to bring the conference to Limpopo was born out of engagements by Limpopo Tourism Agency (LTA) at Meetings Africa 2018, confirming the importance of this marketing platform. The agency will also host International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration (IASIA) at ATKV Klein Kariba from 19-25 July 2020.

Limpopo offers unique conference, meetings, incentives and other venues with relevant resources and superb settings. In recent years, the meetings and incentive industry within Limpopo has grown significantly. Limpopo’s MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions) products are conveniently situated within one-and-a-half to three-hour’s drive from Johannesburg. Access to most of the venues is made easy, as the province is served by three airports with direct flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Limpopo offers a wealth of conferencing and exhibition facilities, including custom-built centres designed to the highest international specifications, facilities at hotels, educational institutions and theatres. Conference venues in the province range from country lodges to large conference and exhibition centres in the cities. While in Limpopo on a business mission, conference goers will be spoilt for choice with a plethora of offerings from wildlife to adventure activities.

Three South African cities are currently excelling in the business tourism sector, namely, Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. Limpopo does not have the same sort of large infrastructure that these centres can call on such as convention centres, but the LTA is now focussing on creating awareness about what the province has to offer in the business tourism space.

While Limpopo is still striving towards its goals in taking full advantage of the opportunities in tourism, the MICE sector undoubtedly presents an opening for the province as a destination to focus on providing big entities or corporate organisations with opportunities to host a variety of activities. This includes incentive trips and team-building sessions which would be ideally suited to what the province has to offer.

LTA already has a Business Tourism Strategy in place that guides it on what needs to be done in the marketing space and on the supply infrastructure and tourism demand side. The entity is ready to establish a dedicated conventions bureau unit to begin searching for and bidding for events from associations in the country and beyond, for example, mining chambers, the Mango Association and Grain Association. LTA intends to secure the calendars of these organisations to lobby for their events to be held in Limpopo Province.

It must be emphasized that there are excellent facilities throughout the province, although transformation is critical given a low number of previously disadvantaged enterprises working in this space. The Agency will work closely with Limpopo Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET) to address this challenge.

Limpopo Province continues to be one of the major recipients of tourism arrivals in South Africa given its broad tourism product offering and appeal.

Limpopo Tourism Agency will continue to build and strengthen partnerships with the industry, local government and other key stakeholders in order to deliver on its mandate. The Agency will capitalize on this advantage to support and nurture its business tourism profile.

The Agency will continue to maximize its competitive advantage of being bordered by three countries in the SADC region, namely, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. These countries are seen as a low-hanging fruit as the distance to Limpopo for business events and conferences is shorter than anywhere else in the country.

Destination Limpopo’s prospects in business tourism are enormous with the upcoming Makhado and Tubatse Special Economic Zones (SEZs) that will inject R44-billion in investments to the province’s economy thereby creating 22 800 direct jobs. This will also contribute to business tourism growth in the province.

More Limpopo business and investment insight in Limpopo Business 2019/20 edition (digital journal):