High demand for SA conference centres

By Nthambeleni Gabara

Pretoria – Conference Centres across the country are reporting a high demand this year as local businesses try to squeeze in conferences ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Conference bookings in Gauteng alone are expected to exceed R1 billion.

Liza van Wyk, owner and CEO of the AstroTech Conference Centre in Parktown said: "The year started off fast and very busy with a significant number of queries from foreign and South African companies booking conferences and events.”

She said there has been significant interest from foreign organisations that are having events because of the World Cup.

"South African companies seem to be concerned about high travel prices during the Soccer World Cup and the fact that universities will close during that time, so we are moving bookings forward. “

Another trend that seemed to be emerging was many companies scheduling increased staff training during June and July.

Demand for South Africa’s conference centres have also been fuelled by South Africa being named as a top 10 destination for 2010 in the highly influential British ABTA Travel Trends Report.

ABTA, which represents more than 500 travel associations and more than 9 000 travel agents in the British Isles alone, has hailed the quality of South Africa's conference destinations.

Lebo Mokhesi, country manager for South African Tourism in the UK said: "We thank ABTA for this recognition, and are gearing ourselves up for what they quite rightly predict is going to be a very busy 2010.

“We are delighted to see that the World Cup is not only throwing the spotlight onto our world class sporting facilities, but that it is highlighting new experiences to first time and repeat visitors alike." – BuaNews