Johannesburg Going After Conference, Meetings Markets More Aggressively

Johannesburg Going After Conference, Meetings Markets More Aggressively

The heart of South African commerce and business, Johannesburg is well positioned to tap into the lucrative conference market, but it’s not an easy city to navigate as a tourist without a car, according to a report in TheSouthAfrican.

Traditionally, the coastal port of Durban on the Indian Ocean has marketed itself more aggressively than Johannesburg as a destination for meetings, incentives, conferences and events, but Johannesburg is catching up, the report said.

Johannesburg is home to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, Africa’s largest stock market, and to the most millionaires on the continent. Growing its share of meetings and conferences is a natural move on the part of Gauteng Tourism.

There are four major players in the  Johannesburg convention industry, beyond a myriad of smaller and mid-level centers and hotels with conference facilities. These include the MTN Expo Centre Nasrec, (the city’s largest venue) Sandton Convention Center, the Gallagher Estate and the Coca-Cola Dome. Between them, they offer hundreds of meeting rooms and capacity for tens of thousands of visitors.

Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport is Africa’s busiest with about 44 domestic and international airlines offering direct flights. The recently modernized airport has expanded its parking.

The biggest criticism against Johannesburg is limited transportation, the report said. The Gautrain system links the airport and Sandton directly with travel time of just 17 minutes, but it is expensive, costing commuters R125 (about $12). There are many private taxis and shuttles available from the arrivals terminal with costs usually based on distance.

Johannesburg is a sprawling city best suited to private vehicles – a concern that the provincial and municipal governments are working to address. The new Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit system has relieved some congestion in the city center and residents hope it will do the same as it expands to link more regions of the city.