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What does 2022 hold for the Events Industry?

2020 was the year that never happened; the year that the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc around the world. It has left an indelible mark globally and on everyone in South Africa, in our provinces, our communities, our businesses and within our families.

The Events Industry, in particular, literally died a sudden death and we could not even have imagined the painful repercussions that this would have on businesses 22 months down the line.

2021 did not start any better; the burden and lasting effects of the worldwide pandemic were still felt in immeasurable ways. We were hopeful and looked forward to some semblance of normalcy but that was only to be experienced in quarter 4 of 2021 when the country was placed on Covid -19 restricted level 1, on 1st October 2021.

Slowly, but surely, we started seeing movement. While the Events Industry rejoiced, we were still uncertain as to how this would play out. We were not out of the woods yet; the adoption of working from home and restrictions on the public resulted in virtual events gaining popularity during the pandemic. Would live events ever resume?

Now in November, we are looking 2022 squarely in the eye. The uncertainty in the eventing space is still prevalent, with predictions about a potential fourth wave causing anxiety and hesitation. Certain events require years to plan, International Conferences need months and years to organise and the lack of certainty creates a sense of fear and doubt amongst International companies wanting to host events in South Africa. Thankfully most of the strict travel restrictions have now been lifted, but to keep momentum, we need to build a strong and lasting confidence in our industry.

The global Events Industry generated an estimated $1.13 trillion in 2019 and in South Africa, the Events Industry contributes an estimated R33 billion annually to the South African GDP as well as millions of rands in job creation. The livelihoods of so many people depend on this industry. We have already experienced a massive loss of companies who have been in operation for many years and many individuals who have closed down businesses, lost jobs and or emigrated to other countries where they could still make a living. Losing all that experience and expertise has dealt a devastating blow to the events industry.

As an industry that was very hard hit by the pandemic, we are hoping for a 360 degree turn around and compound annual growth. South Africa is officially open for meetings and Conventions once again. We are continuing with all anti-Covid measures and strictly adhering to Protocols and Regulations.

We wish to see more people getting vaccinated in order to establish herd immunity, to slow the pandemic and abate the crisis. The current local vaccination rates are at 22.6% .and growing as more venues, sporting and entertainment establishments require delegates and attendees to be fully vaccinated in order to gain access. South Africa could reach 70% of vaccinations by May 10th 2023

The SA Events Council, in conjunction with SA Tourism, is planning a National Roadshow as an aggressive campaign to train and empower the Events partners in the various provinces on how to gain traction post Covid-19, to encourage vaccinations in the Industry and to continue driving the momentum that we are already seeing.

We would love to share the natural beauty of South Africa with the world and see it become not only a top holiday destination but the number one Events and Convention destination for International Conferences and delegates.

With the above in mind, the Events Industry is looking forward to a brighter and rosier 2022.

By Raylene Johnson

SA Events Council Chairperson

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