From Singapore, where the 20th World Orchid Conference (WOC) is underway, comes the exciting news that the 21st WOC will be held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg in 2014.
Lindiwe Kwele, CEO of Johannesburg Tourism is thrilled that the conference is returning to South Africa – 30 years after it was held in Durban in 1981. “An indication of the confidence that associations, PCOs, and events organizers have in Joburg as a destination is the impressive line-up of international events – with an estimated economic benefit to the city in excess of R200 million – set to take place in Joburg over the next three years,” said Kwele.
“Joburg is also seeing a pleasing increase in overseas incentive groups visiting (and spending time) in the city.” During the past six months, JTC has hosted three large groups of medical professionals from India – during their two-day, stay-over in Joburg – on incentive trips to South Africa. “The increased business we’ve seen in the recent past gives credence to our positioning of Johannesburg as a sought-after lifestyle destination with diverse product appeal. Joburg is certainly making strides in its reputation, and developments of this nature indicate that it is indeed on the radar as an appealing destination among DMCs and international associations.”
The three Gauteng-based orchid societies (from Johannesburg, Edenvale, and Pretoria) will be the hosts for this illustrious event. “Our theme for the conference and show in 2014 will be ‘Orchids: Gold in the Green Age,'” said Gerrit van Ede, Chairman of the bid steering committee, “With this area forming the nucleus of our ageing mining industry, the theme pays tribute to this, while drawing inspiration from conservation as the only way forward.”
South Africa is well known for its wild life, and a visit to the Kruger National Park is normally high on every tourists’ list to see the big five – elephant, lion, buffalo, hippo, and leopard. Today, bird watching has also become popular among tourists. The unique flora kingdom in the Western and Northern Cape is attracting more and more overseas visitors. Orchids have started to become another item on the list of eco tourists. Seeing the beautiful Disa uniflora in full bloom on Table Mountain is a must for many. Areas like Dullstroom and Crissiesmeer in Mpumalanga are becoming hotspots for eco tourists.
ORCHIDS IN SOUTH AFRICA
Van Ede explained that of approximately 550 species of orchids that occur in South Africa, only a small portion (50 or so) are epiphytes – the bulk are terrestrial orchids. With two very distinct climates – winter rainfall and summer rainfall – the orchids also tend to be diverse. The winter rainfall orchids flower mainly in spring and the summer rainfall orchids flower mostly in mid-summer. The growing of orchids as a hobby started in the late 19th century. The first South African society dedicated to the growing of orchids – and now known as the Cape Orchid Society – dates back to 1956. A national body to oversee the interest of orchids was created in 1968. The South African Orchid Council hosted the 10th World Orchid Conference in Durban in 1981. “It is, therefore, a pleasure for us – 30 years later – to invite the world to the 21st WOC and Show to be held in 2014 in the City of Gold,” said van Ede.