Crafting the Future Leaders of the Business Events Industry | The Planner

South African Tourism, in collaboration with the Southern African Tourism Educators of South Africa (TESA) and the South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB), is thrilled to unveil the highly anticipated Future Leaders Forum. This forms a key component of the upcoming s Africa that starts on 26 February 2024 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. Designed to engage and inspire young enthusiasts aspiring to excel in the business events sector, the Future Leaders Forum will take centre stage on Business Opportunity Networking Day (BONDay).

With a steadfast commitment to youth empowerment across the tourism and business events industry, the Future Leaders Forum presents a meticulously curated programme with ambitious objectives aimed at inspiring and guiding students towards successful careers in the dynamic business events arena. Participants will immerse themselves in a transformative experience, forging invaluable industry connections, accessing top-tier educational content, gaining insights from seasoned professionals, and engaging in collaborative learning with peers.

James Kgabo

Recognising student success

In a unique opportunity extended to universities nationwide, the SANCB and TESA have solicited nominations of three top-performing students from each institution to compete against their counterparts. Eligible students must be enrolled in NQF level 7 and 8 qualifications in Tourism and Hospitality, comprising B-degrees, Honours, National Diploma, Post Graduate Diploma, and Diploma students.

Selection criteria encompass a keen interest in the business events industry, academic excellence, and an age limit not exceeding 35 years. The finalists are James Kgabo from Tshwane North College, Hlolohelo Zwane from Tshwane North College, and Anaïs Saayman from North-West University.

The journey for these finalists will reach an exciting juncture on 26 February when they will present their proposals, marking a potentially thrilling entry into the global meetings and events arena.

After the 2024 edition of the Future Leaders Forum at Meetings Africa, the winner will progress to the International University Challenge. This global competition unfolds at Future Leaders Forums worldwide, offering students a platform to showcase their creativity in event planning, represent their country, and compete against the world’s finest students. The ultimate victor, crowned at the annual IMEX Gala Dinner in Frankfurt, will receive the coveted MPI Foundation Student Scholarship Award.
The finalist contending for this prestigious prize will proceed to compete at the International University Challenge, representing South Africa at IMEX Frankfurt in May.

“At South African Tourism, we are deeply committed to nurturing tomorrow’s leaders, and this globally recognised platform enables us to do just that while ensuring the cultivation of talent that will enrich our business events industry in the years to come. It’s truly about securing the industry’s longevity through investment in our youth.”

The prize

Hlolohelo Zwane


The champion of the Future Leaders Forum – International University Challenge at Meetings Africa 2024 will receive a sponsored prize package, including flights, accommodation, and a travel allowance to attend the global Future Leaders Forum at IMEX Frankfurt in May 2024. This collaboration is in partnership with Meeting Professional International (MPI), the world’s largest industry association for meeting and event professionals, which will cover accommodation expenses while SANCB will provide support for flights and allowances. South Africa boasts a proud legacy in this competition, having secured victory in the International University Challenge at IMEX Frankfurt three times since its inception in 2013. Previous South African winners include Anzelle Vorstman (2015 – North-West University), Kazzandra Grove (2017 – North-West University), and Emile Coetzee (2019 – North-West University).



“Through the Future Leaders Forum programme, students garner international recognition and become esteemed ambassadors of their country. Through their engagement with peers from around the globe, they have the opportunity to showcase South Africa and inspire others to visit our vibrant nation. People are at the core of our destination brand and all our marketing efforts are driven by our warm and hospitable people. The IMEX-MPI International University Challenge not only presents a formidable challenge for the students but also serves as a splendid platform to showcase our brand. I wish all three finalists the best of luck, and eagerly anticipate welcoming them to the business events industry in future meetings and gatherings,” concludes Hufkie.

Anaïs Saayman