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    Large international events take over Sandton Convention Centre

    Sandton Convention Centre’s reputation as a leading venue for international business was strengthened further earlier this year with four major events that saw 7 000 room nights booked by the organisers in Sandton during April and May.


    The events were Forever Living Products International’s Global Rally, from 17-22 April; the Africa & Middle East Conference of the Junior Chamber International, from 4-7 May; an ICOLD (International Commission on Large Dams) annual event, from 12-21 May; and the Arnold Classic Africa 2016 multi-sport festival and expo from 27-29 May.


    “We hosted these four events that were all significant in their own right over a six-week period,” says Debra de Sousa, Sandton Convention Centre’s Operations Manager. “We’re proud that we could be of service to organisations of such high calibre, as well as contribute to tourism and the local economy with the influx of international visitors.”


    The 2016 Forever Living Global Rally was a 10-day experience for the company’s top business owners from around the world. Says Nick Woodward-Shaw, Vice President, Global Events for Forever Living Products International, “Over 10 000 guests took part in meetings, training sessions, dinners, activities and sightseeing trips across Johannesburg and the Gauteng region. It proved to be a highly successful event with many guests describing it as the ‘best ever’!


    ”We used Sandton Convention Centre for a number of our training events as well the prestigious ‘Chairman’s Bonus Party’ where the company hosted over 3 000 people and rewarded about 750 business owners with bonus cheques. The location of the venue was perfect for our group and the facilities were excellent. The guests thoroughly enjoyed it and were impressed with the quality of the food and beverages.”


    Woodward-Shaw adds that while the company has produced this incentive event in many different cities around the world, “the experience we had in South Africa was probably the friendliest and the most culturally inspiring. In 2017, we are off to Dubai, but we will be back in South Africa in the future, for sure.”


    De Sousa adds that the rally also included a Stop Hunger Now food packing event for 1 600 Forever Living people, divided into four sessions, which involved unique logistical requirements.


    The Africa and Middle East Conference of the Junior Chamber International is an annual prominent global platform for young business leaders, giving them the opportunity to participate in inspirational sessions, workshops, meetings, JCI programmes, training sessions, and fun events to share best practices, exchange ideas, and focus on solutions for their regions and how they can create positive change across communities.


    The Conference accommodated 380 delegates as well as about 70 local young people who were invited to gain insight and learnings from their peers and industry leaders.


    The Sandton Convention Centre, in collaboration with Junior Chamber International South Africa and the City of Joburg, won the bid to host the JCI Conference in 2014. Johannesburg Mayor, Parks Tau, addressed the conference, which focused on empowering the youth.


    In 2011 Sandton Convention Centre won the bid to run the ICOLD, the International Commission of Large Dams, annual event and exhibition, which included the five-day 84th Annual Meeting, hosted by the SA National Committee on Large Dams (SANCOLD). The event accommodated 1 150 delegates from around the world and ensured a high technical content by way of one-day technical tours, symposia and workshops, the exhibition and study tours. A social and accompanying person’s programme was also arranged to give visitors a taste of Africa.


    ICOLD had the support of the Department of Water and Sanitation and was attended by the Minister, Ms Nomvula Mokonyane, as well as several governmental dignitaries from other countries, most notably China, which sent six high-ranking officials.


    “For both the JCI and ICOLD events, we were faced with the need for numerous venues for meetings and technical sessions and workshops that involved excellent logistical organisation, and quick turnarounds in setting up the various venues,” notes De Sousa. “All went smoothly throughout the events – and the organisers and delegates were all more than satisfied with the services we delivered – including ensuring a high standard in food and beverage for all meal requirements, from tea breaks, lunches, cocktail parties, banquets, and even a braai for the ICOLD young engineers on our terrace.”


    The first Arnold Classic Sports Festival in Africa was a significant success, accommodating 48 different sporting codes, with 11 250 athletes and participants, and upward of 50 000 visitors. Added to this festival was a fitness and trade expo featuring 250 exhibitors.


    “It was an event with a difference,” comments De Sousa. “It gave a wide range of sporting codes the opportunity to participate on a national platform, attracting participants as well as potential participants and spectators. The overall mood of the festival was excitement and enthusiasm, all of which augurs very well for future Arnold Classic events.”


    The event was organised by Wayne and Michelle Price, both active in South African bodybuilding. Michelle Price says, “The response to the event from the various participating sporting federations and associations was that the festival generated excellent exposure for them, particularly the smaller sports, which will help to develop them. They are keen to be part of an even bigger event next year.”


    The event was attended by sporting celebrities, most notably by Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, who made time to visit each sporting code. Also in attendance was the Premier of Gauteng, David Makhura; MEC of Sport for Gauteng, Faith Mazibuko; and the Gauteng Sports Council, which ran the volunteer programme.


    “We’re extremely proud of the success of these major international events over a relatively short period,” says De Sousa, “but we’re not resting on our laurels for a moment. We are concentrating on the next series of big events – which includes hosting CITES CoP17 at the end of September, which is the first time that a CITES Conference of Parties meeting will be held in Johannesburg, and the DISCOP - TV loves Africa expo in early November, which will provide insight into the future of film, television programmes, adaptation rights and packaged channels across Africa.”


    For more information on Sandton Convention Centre, log on to www.saconvention.co.za, join the Facebook page on http://www.facebook.com/SandtonConventionCentre or follow on Twitter at @SandtonEvents.

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