SOUTH Africa had secured 88 international association meetings over the next five years to 2017, according to a report to Parliament on Tuesday by the National Convention Bureau.

These meetings would have an estimated economic impact of R2.6bn and draw about 198,900 delegates to the country, the bureau’s executive manager, Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, told the tourism portfolio committee.

Of these secured conferences, 38 with an estimated economic impact of R680m would take place in 2013; 21 in 2014 (R588m); 17 in 2015 (R693m); 10 in 2016 (R649m); and two in 2017 (R57m).

The National Convention Bureau became fully operational in the 2012-13 year. It was established as a unit within South African Tourism to ensure the synchronisation of the international marketing efforts of the convention centres of particular cities, and to ensure they did not work against each other.

Ms Kotze-Nhlapo said South Africa was still ranked the top association congress destination in Africa and the Middle East. It hosted 106 international conferences in 2012 with an economic value of R662m, attended by 52,587 delegates over 414 days.

She said South Africa hosted more than a third of all association meetings that took place in Africa in 2012. Cape Town was the top-ranking city in Africa, followed by Johannesburg at third place, Durban fourth, Stellenbosch seventh and Pretoria ninth.