Officials estimate that business tourism currently accounts for around 6% of all foreign arrivals. The figure represents more than half a million visitors per year who come to South Africa for meetings, incentives, conferences and events each year.
Speaking to C&IT on the first day of the Meetings Africa show at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South African Tourism chief marketing officer Roshene Singh said she was hopeful that this figure would rise to 10 per cent by next year in wake of interest generated by the coverage of the World Cup.
"In the past five years, we have had £5.2bn invested into South Africa's technology, communication, transport and infrastructure, including the construction of a new airport in Durban and a wealth of hotel openings across several cities," said Singh. "We have developed extensive hospitality programs that will showcase the best of South Africa's business events capabilities, as well as our exceptional outdoor offering."
Coca-Cola, Sony, Emirates and McDonalds are among the firms to have extensive sponsorship deals and corporate hospitality options in place around the tournament.
Singh said that business events around the tournament would offer a "unique African experience". "We want to deliver the image of South Africa as the centre point for business tourism," she said. "The World Cup will be an upbeat celebration that will show the world that Africa may have endured problems of apartheid, poverty and social deprivation. But it's not a basket case - it has come through all of that and emerges stronger for it."
Asked about some of the main perception challenges ahead of the games, Singh refuted allegations that the attack on the bus carrying Togo's football team to the Africa Cup of Nations last month had hampered perceptions of South Africa's capability of handling the tournament.
"We have worked extensively with local and international security agencies and have Fifa-approved precautions in place. We do say that visitors should take the same precautions as they would in any country and not put themselves in obvious danger."