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Adventure sports, wildlife encounters, and experiences that immerse visitors in local communities and cultures. Each of these elements is within reach of South African cities that offer traditional, contemporary, and hip hotels and meeting facilities. Together, they contribute to the unique memories that MICE groups take home with them following a visit to South Africa.
From cultural exchange to athletic challenges, South Africa creates unforgettable MICE experiences
When responding to our annual PRO SKY Destination Report survey, MICE professionals always express interest in options for travel to less familiar destinations. Those locations are most attractive when, like South Africa, they present few obstacles to travel.
- English is one of its 11 official languages, which reduces the language barrier.
- MICE groups traveling to South Africa from Western Europe will remain in their own time zone.
- Visitors can experience African culture without having to get vaccinations or take anti-malarial drugs.
- And the country offers excellent value for money.
Local MICE travel expert Debbie De Villiers of Terra Nova South Africa shared some of her recommendations for a successful group excursion.
MICE EXPERIENCES AND EXPLORATIONS
WALK THROUGH HISTORY.
Unlike European destinations whose attractions may be centuries old, South Africa introduces visitors to sites of more recent historical and cultural importance.
In Cape Town, De Villiers recommends activities that take MICE groups beyond the vistas on the waterfront. In addition to visits to Robben Island and District Six, she recommends getting to know the local music and art, particularly “intimate experiences” with artists and performers in their homes and workshops.
“There are many exciting locales where visitors enjoy a walk through ‘un-touristy’ areas, learning about the meanings and reasons for the vibrant and colorful wall art,” she says. “It is extremely important to us that through a walking experience visitors to our country get to engage with local communities and townships like Langa, Nyanga, Khayelitsha and Guglethu to see and experience the real Cape Town.”
In Johannesburg, day trips can include a visit to Maropeng—“The Cradle of Humankind”—or the Apartheid Museum. But “a visit to Maboneng for a Township Arts experience that includes visual arts, dance, film, theatre, music and other art forms is a must,” our local expert advises.
PUMP UP YOUR HEART RATE.
Cape Town’s Table Mountain National Park offers MICE groups a range of physical activities that range from relaxed to strenuous. For those who are up to the challenge of ascending the front of the mountain, options include walks that require climbing skills.
Those with a taste for extreme adventure can try abseiling from the upper cable station. “The views make this an exciting and beautiful adventure,” De Villiers says. “However, the walk up is a fairly steep hike, so not for the unfit.” Whether the group opts for mountain biking, trail running, or track and downhill biking, they’ll be challenged by rugged and varied natural environment that changes from lush vegetation to small rivers and rocky outcrops.
Those in search of a slower pace can access Skeleton Gorge from the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and enjoy a longer but more scenic uphill walk.
FOOD AND DRINK: BE SURE TO PACK YOUR APPETITE!
Cape Town and wine country.
One of De Villiers’ favorite vineyards is Rupert and Rothschild, a “beautiful and tranquil” estate that offers “a short but interesting cellar tour, with a very enjoyable exclusive wine tasting experience.” She also recommends Vergelegen for its “beautiful Cape Dutch architecture and fantastic gardens,” excellent wines, and a restaurant known for its gourmet dining. Tokara, whose restaurant “is outstanding with magnificent views,” is another “consistent favorite.”
Operating out of Cape Town, these outings are “a journey of not only gourmet offerings but all traditional and interesting foods enjoyed by the local people,” De Villiers says. “These foods are tasted and explored directly from where they are produced or sold, allowing the visitor to not only taste but interact with local communities, chefs and producers.”
Johannesburg cuisine and culture.
While our local expert calls Soweto township tours “a must for the visitor wanting to understand the freedom struggle,” she adds that “it is also important to include a meal in Soweto to experience the vibrant social scene.” Options include visiting artists in their homes or going to a local restaurant that offers entertainment so that MICE groups can experience contemporary Soweto culture.
HOTELS AND MEETING SPACES
South Africa’s MICE accommodations include “a number of new hotels with great locations and facilities that suit all budgets,” De Villiers reports. “Radisson Red in the Waterfront is a hotel with a great location for a good price. Rezidor has also opened the Radisson Blu and Residence in the city center. It is a stunning corporate hotel with some really nice public spaces.”
The Table Bay is not a new hotel, but our DMC expert lauds its great location and excellent facilities along with those of The One and Only. Her recommendations also include the Westin Cape Town, which affords easy access to the Convention Centre. When it comes to “exciting new properties,” her top picks include Tsogo Suns Stay Easy and Sun Square, which offer some of the more affordable accommodation options within walking distance of the Convention Centre and Waterfront. And for MICE groups in search of a colonial ambiance, she calls The Mount Nelson “a strong contender with its beautiful gardens and public areas.”
MICE itineraries that are not long enough to include a safari can still offer group members some exposure to local wildlife, from a visit to a penguin colony to cheetah encounters and rhino tracking. A two-night stay in a private reserve is another alternative to the full safari experience.
HOW TO REACH SOUTH AFRICA
FLY TO South Africa with Qatar AirwayS: A focus on the Q Suite.
In the very near future, groups leaving from Europe and flying to South Africa will be able to experience a brand new feature called the Qsuite. Flying long-haul from Europe to South Africa can been seen as an exhausting experience. Indeed, departures from major European cities tend to include at least 10 hours of flying time. In this context, one of Qatar Airways’ significant strengths is its ability to transform a group journey into a truly remarkable experience.
Privacy and Productivity
Small groups have the possibility to fully adapt their environment with an interesting quad configuration. Flexible layout options allow for optimal interaction and productivity during a flight. Space surfaces such as tables, separation walls and even doors can easily be removed, allowing passengers to personalise their private area for utmost privacy and comfort.
Connectivity and Entertainment
When it comes to connectivity, it has never been easier to communicate, share data and collaborate online. The media panel is specially tailored to fit the needs of MICE groups, including on-board WiFi and an all-access power port with USB, HDMI and NFC.
À la carte Experience
With the pre-select dining option, groups can choose in advance their on-board catering. It makes it possible to choose from a range of delicious dishes from 14 days and up to 24 hours ahead of departure.
The Qsuite is already available from Paris and London to Doha. Coming soon in 2018, passengers flying from Frankfurt will also be able to benefit from this amazing travel experience!
When you’re starting to plan MICE travel to South Africa or elsewhere, you can count on the Pro Sky team’s support in creating a memorable event. When it comes to South Africa, we have more than 110 projects under our belt and are always looking to go the extra mile for your journey. To explore our services and learn how our expertise can enhance your planning capacity, CONTACT US