AviaDev heads to Cape Town

(L-R) Jacques Moolman, General Manager, Southern Sun Cape Sun Hotel,
Jon Howell, Managing Director, AviaDev, Tim Harris, CEO, Wesgro

AviaDev, the African aviation development conference, will take place in Cape Town in June 2018. The networking event, which is entering its third year of growth, initially took place in Kigali, alongside the African Hotel Investment Forum, AHIF, and explored the link between Aviation and Hospitality development.

Bench Events, AviaDev’s organiser, expects to welcome 250-300 delegates and 30 airlines later this year to the only forum that is dedicated to advancing Africa’s connectivity right across the continent. Bringing together airports, airlines, tourism authorities, governments and industry suppliers, AviaDev offers attendees the ability to pre-arrange meetings in professional surroundings, offering the opportunity to hold high-level discussions with a wide range of current and prospective partners in an extremely time-efficient manner.

IATA has identified that the top 10 fastest growing aviation economies over the next 20 years will all be in Africa and AviaDev aims to facilitate this growth through its world class conference programme, meeting system and unrivalled networking opportunities.

The principal conversations at AviaDev will take place between the top management of airports and of airlines. The airports (and the destinations they serve) are seeking to attract new routes, as that is beneficial to the wider economy. Airlines are evaluating which destinations it will be most profitable to add to their network. As the destinations are effectively promoting themselves to the carriers, the destinations will man exhibition stands at which they will host pre-scheduled discussions with different airline executives. There will also be space for industry suppliers to exhibit too.

Dikko Nwachukwu, Founder and CEO, jetWest Airways (FlyjetWest), said of the event: “AviaDev is the most progressive aviation conference in Africa. It is the present and definitely the future standard for African Aviation.”

A major factor behind the move to Cape Town has been the sponsorship of the Cape Town Air Access Initiative. The Initiative has made aviation route development a strategic priority in its own efforts to promote the region as a destination to visit and to conduct business. In the past year, Cape Town has gained 10 new routes and seen expansion of an additional 11 routes, resulting in a 25% increase in international passenger numbers for 2017.

Tim Harris, CEO, Wesgro, said: “I am very pleased that Cape Town will host AviaDev this year, coinciding with the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth, the naming, by Skytrax, of Cape Town International as the best airport in Africa and news that Cape Town is Africa’s top destination for business tourism. There are many compelling reasons to be excited about our region as a place to visit and do business, including its strategic location at the foot of Africa, its stunning natural beauty, its wildlife and exceptional value for money.”

Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, Western Cape Government, welcomed the hosting of the conference in Cape Town, due to the strategic importance of its agenda: “Boosting connectivity between African destinations is good for business and good for tourism, both of which create jobs for residents.”

He continued: “The Cape Town Air Access initiative has already made significant strides in growing the number of travellers arriving at our world-class airport and this conference will provide us with a platform to further expand our networks. The tourism sector in the Western Cape is already a large-scale employer, with massive potential for growth. We believe that growing connectivity with the rest of Africa will help us unlock that potential.”

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), Cape Town earns over $2 billion per annum in inbound tourism expenditure and it forecasts healthy economic growth – in excess of 6% per annum throughout the coming decade. Over that period, it predicts that the city’s travel & tourism industry will sustain a substantial increase in employment, with the number of tourism-related jobs rising from around 160,000 in 2016, 10.8% of the city’s workforce, to over 230,000 by 2026, 13.2% of the city’s workforce.

AviaDev will take place at the Southern Sun Cape Sun Hotel on June 12-14. In parallel, Bench Events will also run a regional AHIF briefing, which will attract the hotel investment community, who will be keen to join discussions about which African destinations will be highest priority for more aviation traffic.

Jon Howell, Managing Director, AviaDev – Bench Events, concluded: “One has to be impressed with the way Cape Town and the Western Cape has set about promoting itself and encouraging trade and investment. In particular, its initiative in establishing the Cape Town Air Access Committee has shown what can be done when all the relevant players in the public and private sectors collaborate to explain how attractive a destination can be.”

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