Joburg prides itself on being one of Africa’s most exciting and rapidly-developing cities. Not only is it the economic hub of the continent, the city also offers a plethora of cultural, leisure, sporting, fashion, and lifestyle activities that is fast making it the leading destination for both leisure and business tourists.
One of Johannesburg’s major competitive advantages is its international recognition as the business and commercial capital of the African continent. Given its accessibility by air (55 international airlines fly in to Joburg), that 75 percent of corporate headquarters are based in the city, and being the only city in South Africa that boasts 4 of the venues, each capable of hosting more than 5,000 delegates – Johannesburg’s success as a tourism destination pivots on business.
However, the city’s infrastructure, tourism sites, attractions, and vibrant lifestyle offerings offer plenty of reasons for travelers to enjoy spending quality leisure time here. Joburg’s legendary shopping, dining, entertainment, and nightlife is complimented by fabulous weather, as well as an astonishing array of facilities like spectacular golf courses, gyms, spas, and wellness centers, which add to its appeal as a destination.
As the city’s destination marketing organization, Johannesburg Tourism, therefore, remains focused on positioning Johannesburg not only as the continent’s leading business and lifestyle hub, but also as an exciting, vibrant, year-round destination for signature events, retail, entertainment, the arts, culture, fashion, sports, and, of course, mega-events.
To this end, the destination’s signature events are promoted through seasonal campaigns – spring, summer, and winter – enhancing them with special packages and offers. Aside from the live events feed and gig guide on its website ( www.joburgtourism.com ), a recent addition to the JTC’s marketing platforms, is a booking portal ( http://travel.joburgtourism.com ), designed to facilitate all travel inquiries and bookings to Joburg for consumers.
In terms of the recently-launched Mayoral Outreach campaign to discuss the city of Johannesburg’s Growth and Development Strategy 2040 ( www.joburg.org.za/gds2040 ), tourism remains a significant economic growth imperative on the city’s agenda.
Moreover, it is an important catalyst to encourage the development of the SMME sector in order to encourage the growth and development of a vibrant second economy. In line with this, it is the Johannesburg Tourism Company’s strategy mission to attract visitors to its city, encourage them to stay longer, spend more, and improve seasonality patterns and spread of visitors across the city. However, these economic imperatives have to be managed responsibly within a broader social and environmentally-sustainable context, which is not always simple when balancing the needs of diverse sectors.
IMPRESSIVE GREEN CREDENTIALS
However, Johannesburg is proud of its environmental credentials. Aside from being one of the world’s greenest cities and boasting the world’s largest man-made forest (comprising some 10 million trees), Joburg is the only South African city that is part of the C40 Large Cities Climate Leadership Group.
Johannesburg ranks above average overall in the Siemens African Green Cities Index (2011), along with 5 other cities. It is particularly strong in energy and CO2, land use, transport, air quality, and environmental governance, ranking above average in each category. The city’s environmental performance is bolstered by having the second highest amount of green space among the 15 Index cities and extensive bus networks, as well as generally robust environmental policies, especially for clean energy and congestion reduction. The city’s performance is very consistent – it never falls below average in any individual category, achieving above average rankings in water, waste, and sanitation.
THE EVENT GREENING FORUM
Established in 2011, the Event Greening Forum (EGF) was established through the dedication and support of 8 national industry associations, who are recognized as founding members. The EGF plays a leading role in promoting and embracing sustainable and ethical business practices in the events industry in South Africa, focusing on meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions, and events.
Event Greening practices are taken seriously and are widespread among MICE industry players in Joburg. While all establishments have greening initiatives in place, the majority are active members of the Heritage certification program, which provides an environmental rating and assists with implementing systems to improve upon the rating.
Some of the green conference options offered by leading conferencing facilities include:
Food and Water – use of locally-produced food (that includes seasonal and sustainable ingredients), encouraging drinking of tap water provided in jugs (rather than bottled water), and providing refillable bottles;
Energy efficiency (including the utilization of green power – solar energy), dimming lights, and switching off air conditioners during tea breaks;
Public Transport/Walk ability/Bicycles – to reduce emissions;
Waste management and recycling; and
Tree planting and greening to offset carbon emissions.
Johannesburg, represented by the Johannesburg Tourism Company, is a member of the International Council of Tourism Partners (ICTP), a new grassroots travel and tourism coalition of global destinations committed to quality service and green growth. ( www.tourismpartners.org ).