Getting to know… Rendani Khorommbi & The Joburg Convention Bureau | The Planner

Joburg Tourism is a destination marketing entity within the City’s Department of Economic Development, dedicated to promoting tourism growth in Johannesburg. Its primary function is to promote Johannesburg as a business, lifestyle, sport and leisure destination, both locally and internationally. Its operations include running a Convention Bureau, a Visitor Services Bureau, as well as co-ordinating city-wide tourism marketing programmes, tourism information gathering and analysis.

We caught up with the Johannesburg Convention Bureau Deputy Director, Rendani Khorommbi, to find out more about him and his plans for Joburg as a business tourism destination.

TPG: Please can you tell us why you are passionate about business events and business tourism, and what legacy you hope to leave in this sector?

RK: It is predominately because business events in the Tourism Sector are an economic driver that can offer a significant contribution to:

  • The economic growth of a region and the labour market through the supply of goods and related support services.
  • Social upliftment to a region through SMME development, job creation, and infrastructure improvement, to mention a few.
  • The promotion of heritage and cultural experiences. Tourism is considered to enhance the element of community enrichment; this is attributed to the meeting of different cultures.

From a legacy perspective, ideally, it would be great to increase and sustain the number of people employed in the tourism sector.

Watch the Welcome2Joburg video:

TPG: The MICE industry is on the rebound. How is Johannesburg faring in this recovery? Has the Joburg Convention Bureau put any new measures into place to support its recovery?

RK: The City of Johannesburg support interventions for the tourism sector since March 2020 include:

  • The Council approved disaster relief rebates on municipal rates and taxes for COVID-19 lockdown for a period of three months between 01 August 2020 and 30 November 2020. Communication on rebates was extended through FEDHASA for the benefit of all members represented in the form of organised business. Notices were issued on all City platforms – from noticeboards in all the city regions to websites – encouraging businesses to make applications and submissions.
  • The National Tourism Relief Fund approved 360 Johannesburg-based local tourism businesses for support.

The National Tourism Relief Fund approved 360 Johannesburg-based local tourism businesses for support.

  • The re-establishment of the Joburg Tourism Company as an institutional instrument/single purposeful vehicle to turn around tourism in Joburg, which is underway.
  • Approval of the new Draft Tourism Strategy – highlighting the importance of new niche development areas including:
    o Events and Lifestyle;
    o Business Tourism;
    o Township Tourism;
    o Film Tourism;
    o Route Development;
    o Sport Tourism;
    o Real Estate Tourism and
    o Mining Tourism
  • Tourism Development in Soweto, Alexandra and Orange Farm present opportunities for woman empowerment and youth development in the City.
  • The City is embarking on collaboration with the National Department of Tourism to conduct product audits, aiming to identify potential properties/buildings that can be revitalised and positioned for commercial tourism use.
  • Through COJ Opportunity Centres awareness campaigns will be hosted throughout these areas to inform and educate small business owners on available support channels and business development programmes.
  • We’re of the view that the these niches as new growth sectors in tourism are of primary benefit to this specific node with regards to enhancing tourism supply.
  • A collaboration with SAACI is currently under discussion to benefit youth, women and SMMEs, with emphasis on PDIs.
  • We remain committed to incentivizing grading for SMMEs, supporting events for the benefit of SMMEs and youth job creation.
  • Now we’re exploring ways to cultivate access to tourism markets through strategic partnerships.
  • Currently we provide business tourism support to local business to access market opportunities and participate in the MICE sector.
  • We partner and collaborate with local business in this regard to ensure success.

TPG: MICE events are not just about business, although most people only think of Johannesburg is a business destination. What incentives does the City and its surrounds have to offer visitors seeking a memorable experience?

RK: In line with the prioritization of achieving increased visitor arrivals in the City and contributing towards our growth targets, the City of Johannesburg’s strategic objective in relation to tourism is to promote Johannesburg as a leading lifestyle and business destination in Africa, with a global competitive edge.

However, as we’ve said before, we’d also like remind everyone that “There is More to Joburg Than Business and Work”.

“There is More to Joburg Than Business and Work.”

Last year Joburg was named as one of the world’s best cities for Arts and Culture, achieving 38th place (ahead of Cape Town at number 43). This is according to the global publication Big 7 Travel. This is not only testament to the City’s 76 art galleries (which comprise the largest art collection in the country), but also to its iconic signature events which include several annual arts and culture festivals, as well as events like the Africa Rising Film Festival and the Festival of Lights at the Joburg Zoo, the Joy of Jazz, Soweto’s Makhelwane Festival and many more.

Soweto is indeed one of the jewels in the City of Johannesburg’s tourism crown and remains a renowned and popular destination to visit globally. Soweto offers culture, history and lifestyle attractions and is one of our country’s most popular tourism destinations.

“Last year Joburg was named as one of the world’s best cities for Arts and Culture.”

TPG: What changes would you like to see in the MICE space, in South Africa? How are you working towards effecting these changes?

RK: Putting competition as secondary and focusing on collaboration and working with each other across all nine provinces for the benefit of our country. Wherever practical, each business event hosted in any city in South Africa should always have a legacy initiative attached to it.

“Wherever practical, each business event hosted in any city in South Africa should always have a legacy initiative attached to it.”

TPG: In practical terms, what services and benefits does the Joburg Convention Bureau offer, and how can these be accessed?

RK: We provide the following:

  • Support during the process of Bidding for Conventions
  • Support during Hosting of MICE activities
  • Marketing Support
  • Pre and Post Tours
  • Venue Hire support
  • Site inspections
  • Negotiation for MICE rates.

The Johannesburg Convention Bureau can be reached via myself, here.

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