A perfect MICE getaway

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Alpa Jani, Acting Hub-Head MEISEA, South African Tourism, elaborates on the suitable MICE incentives South Africa as a destination offers to Indian MICE groups

Elucidate on the steps to arrange group Visa for MICE in South Africa?
South Africa facilitates processing for group visas, on a case to case basis, at the visa offices in Delhi and Mumbai. As part of its tie-up with VFS, South Africa offers visa processing centers in nine key-market cities in India, namely, New Delhi, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Pune, Goa and Bengaluru. This is especially beneficial for MICE groups as corporates might have offices in multiple cities. Visas are processed in 5-7 working days and participants need to provide only basic easy-to-obtain documents related to their travel.

How good is the air-connectivity between India and South Africa? Which are the flights available? Any new ones added?
Despite being long-haul, South Africa offers convenience when it comes to accessibility since most travellers choose to fly via Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which offer a wide choice of onward flights to South Africa. This is especially significant for conferences that come in from multiple Indian cities because most of them are well-connected to the Gulf. Over 70 international airlines currently fly into South Africa. Efforts are on to increase the seat capacity on relevant flight routes ex-India. Presently, Indian cities are connected to South Africa by Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airways, Air Mauritius, Air Seychelles, and RwandAir which fly via their respective hubs and domestic India connections

Which cities, convention centers, hotels and venues are popular with Indians for MICE in South Africa?
The main convention cities in South Africa include Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town and East London. But over the years MICE travel has become a multi-faceted industry in South Africa, which has seen a shift from the confines of the sprawling metropolis to newer regions like Limpopo province, Garden Route, Sun City, Mpumalanga among others. With nearly 2000 hotels, South Africa offers graded accommodation (graded by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa). South Africa’s events industry is well-established to suit every business need and budget. The International Convention Centre Durban (ICC Durban) has one of the most advanced conference facilities in the world and the largest in Africa. It caters up to 12, 300 delegates and raked seating for 3880 delegates. It also has operable walls that allow for venue flexibility. The venue has six halls, three outdoor courtyard venues and 25 meeting rooms. It not only hosted the United Nations convention on climate change but has also been declared as the venue host for Africa’s largest travel & tourism event, INDABA for the next five years. Similarly, in Cape Town, The Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) caters up to 9, 500 delegates in theatre-style seating. It has two big auditoriums which can accommodate close to 2000 guests. Apart from meeting rooms, CTICC also has the grand ballroom and roof terrace area overlooking the majestic Table Mountain.

What are available options for post-convention entertainment for delegates?
MICE groups love to explore winelands with its magnificent views, splendid wine farms, and exquisite Cape Dutch architecture. Here meetings and corporate workshops are combined with wine and olive tasting, vineyard tours, horse-back rides, hot air ballooning, culinary tours amongst other exciting group activities

SA Forest Adventures offer unique team building options, some of the most popular ones being Quad Biking – Ziplining – Sandboarding group tours, Potjiekos competitions, etc.

Johannesburg is known for its incredible nightlife. From the funky clubs and pubs of Soweto to the laid-back jazzy groove of Newtown and the stylish venues of the northern suburbs caters for all tastes

Delegates can choose to float high above the ground while Hot Air Ballooning to take in the landscapes of this beautiful country

Taking the cable car up to the top of Table Mountain for a bird’s eye-view of the city. Outdoor and adventure enthusiasts can even hike up to the top

Options are available for MICE groups to take to the skies for the ride of their lives at various drop zones like Mother City SkyDiving, Pretoria Skydiving Club, SkyDive Rustenburg and Durban Skydiving Club

One can also view the African Penguins at any of the mesmerising locations of choice – Boulders Beach, Dyer Island, Betty’s Bay, Port Elizabeth or Robben Island

If looking to socialise with colleagues, V & A Waterfront is the place to be. It makes for an allencompassing entertainment venue with pubs, restaurants, jazz lounges and clubs abound. Head to Shimmy Beach Club for the ultimate Beach Club experience or Asoka to while away the whole evening over tapas and wine – travellers are sure to be spoiled for choice.

How many MICE travellers visited South Africa from India in 2017? Kindly share figures. What marketing initiatives have you taken to increase numbers?
As of October 2016, South Africa had 81,429 arrivals with MICE making up for 43 per cent of the total arrivals. In terms of MICE from India, incentive led travel dominates, at approximately 80 per cent. A number of new policy initiatives aimed at expanding the MICE segment in recent years have been introduced and enforced to this effect. In 2012, South Africa National Conventions Bureau (SANCB), an entity focused solely on the promotion of MICE travel was introduced. SANCB’s India office brings a similar focus and effort to support and boost MICE offerings in India, with a range of services such as bid support, destination expertise, building attendance, convention planning support, onsite event services, pre & post meeting itinerates. Additionally our annual properties – Roadshow and Learn South Africa, help bring together travel agents and hotels and service providers in the MICE segment.