10 July 2020

South Africa hosts approximately one million delegates at business events every year, supporting over 250,000 jobs directly and indirectly[i]. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has seen this industry come to a standstill, affecting both the economy and the people they employ. Thanks to the introduction of advanced level 3 lockdown regulations, which allow for the attendance of conferences for work purposes, coupled with the boom in digital events, there is now hope that this vital industry will soon make a recovery.

African Construction and Totally Concrete Expo

One of the biggest construction events on the continent is the African Construction and Totally Concrete Expo, hosted by dmg events, which attracts over 8,500 attendees and more than 200 exhibitors annually. According to dmg events’ Vice President, Devi Paulsen-Abbott, “For the past four decades, dmg events’ mission-critical vision has been to support the global construction industry. Our approach has been to think globally but act locally and this has allowed us to serve all of our partners – be they sponsors, exhibitors, delegates, or visitors. We are proud that our dynamic live and digital events, together with our media products, have made substantial contributions to the local sectors and economy by bringing the global construction and transport industries to South Africa and the continent, in doing so helping to attract foreign investment.”

Dynamic Digital Event Series

As part of their commitment to support local enterprises in their efforts to rebuild, the event organisers are hosting a slew of  digital events which have featured the likes of Tasneem Motara, MEC for Infrastructure Development and Property Management  and Videsh Boodu, Vice President of the South African Institute of Building Design. The African Construction and Totally Concrete Expo has also hosted an interview series on building resilience as an industry. It has become increasingly evident that there remains a need to connect and help the industry develop new solutions to the new challenges faced.

Transport Evolution World

The Transport Evolution World team – another portfolio organised dmg events – continues to engage with the transport sector’s thought-leaders and key stakeholders to create platforms that keep the industry connected and highlight opportunities. Recently, Transport Evolution World successfully launched the first Coffee with the CEO digital series which saw over 200 port, rail and road professionals from 30+ countries linking in to hear from the CEOs of the Maputo Port Development Company, DP World and Grindrod Terminals as they discussed strategy and plans post-COVID-19 lockdown.

The Business Tourism Economy

dmg events realises that events have a far-reaching impact in terms of job creation.  They are foremost a source of employment for local suppliers and vendors such as cleaning companies, stand builders, security and health and safety staff who play a crucial role in putting the gathering together. Secondly, as Paulsen-Abbott explains, events provide a platform for industry stakeholders and attendees to engage, creating an environment conducive to networking which often leads to recruitment opportunities. Lastly, events play a significant job creation role in the tourism, food and hospitality sectors, with most attracting international attendees, all of whom require travel and accommodation.

Business tourism (and tourism in general) is of particular importance to the country’s economy, with tourism directly accounting for 2.8% of gross domestic product (GDP) and 8.2% indirectly[ii]. Sadly, the Tourism Business Council of South Africa predicts that about 600,000 direct tourism jobs will be lost locally in 2020. “While our borders are set to remain closed to international visitors until later in the year or even next year, we are pleased about the reopening of domestic travel for business reasons, particularly as this can include event attendance,” says Paulsen-Abbott.

While people are understandably conscious and wary of gathering in large crowds nowadays, the events industry has responded by going digital. “Although nothing can replace live gatherings, digital events are becoming an increasingly popular way to facilitate the continuation of engagement and business in a digital sphere and this no doubt plays a role in bolstering the economy.

“We encourage South Africans to support the events industry, both in person and online, and in turn the economy,” concludes Paulsen-Abbott.

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