SETE 2011: The way forward for the Sports and Event Tourism Industry

The first Sports and Events Tourism Exchange (SETE) Exhibition and Conference, hosted by South African Tourism, Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA), the Department of Trade and Industry, and Thebe Exhibitions and Projects Group, was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from July 27 to 29, 2011.

It comes as no surprise to the tourism industry that sport is serious business, with sports tourism and mega events estimated to contribute about R6-billion to the South African economy. The two-day SETE conference boasted expert speakers from public, private, media and academic sectors, with the exhibition held alongside the conference. Exhibitors included representatives from sports industry associations, sports bodies, destination management organisations, sponsors, venues, tourism authorities, event and exhibition management companies, and sports marketers and managers, who networked and met with local and international sports buyers at the event.

The objective of the event was stated by Dr. Laurine Platzky, deputy director general of provincial strategic management in the Western Cape provincial government, in her welcome address, “We are here today to discuss, debate and map the way forward for South Africa as a sports and events destination.”

At the conference it was announced that an event strategy was being crafted for the next 15 years for Cape Town and the Western Cape, to construct a 52-week event calendar for each year. This would utilise our stadiums and universities, and expose our visitors to the cityscapes, winelands and desert-scapes of the Western Cape. It would also be aligned with national strategy and models. A further goal was for groundwork to be done at the SETE conference to decide which events South Africa should bid for.

John Perlman, founder of the Dreamfields project and radio host on Kaya FM, spoke about South Africa’s successful hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and opened the floor to the very important legacy question by stating, “As a country, we are brilliant at succeeding but we don’t always know what to do with success.”

Derek Casey, CEO of the 2014 Commonwealth Games Bid and CEO of World Leisure Congress, spoke about the legacies of major events, and the tourism displacement factor felt by all host countries after an event, which prompted campaigns like Sydney’s Where the bloody hell are you? campaign. Other topics introduced by keynote speakers and debated by expert panels and the audience included the key success factors for building sport tourism and event portfolios, the sustainability imperatives surrounding events, and event impact studies.

The key priorities identified at the two-day conference were:

  • A steering committee needs to be established for the event tourism industry, and should include the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), the Department of Sport and Recreation and South African Tourism as the marketing and research arm, with the Department of Arts and Culture covering a broader spectrum of events.
  • The steering committee needs to explore the establishment of an event fund and establish criteria for the management of this fund.
  • The committee must ensure effective communication to all stakeholders; the possibility of linking to the South African Convention Bureau to achieve this was discussed.
  • A coordinated strategic framework at national level is required, with a focus on creating an event portfolio, looking at institutional arrangements and processes, defining clear roles and responsibilities and exploring long-term sustainability imperatives.


More blogs on the SETE conference will follow on over the course of the following week along with a link to the SETE website where industry members will be able to download the speakers’ original presentations by mid-August 2011.

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