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#AfricaMonth: Creating a conducive environment for corporate travel in Africa

According to the Corporate Traveller, business travel will continue to grow in Africa as South African companies of all sizes are forced to look across borders for investment opportunities to counter the weak growth opportunities locally. Rebone Motsatsi, Avis Rent a Car executive: commercial and licensees on corporate travel in Africa shares his thoughts on the business travel market, MICE destinations and the role the government can play in making the country more attractive to corporates.

What are your thoughts on business travel and MICE destinations in African countries?

Business travel has been subdued in the past year. A few of the SADC countries’ economies are commodity based and the unfavourable commodity prices have had an impact on business travel to these countries. For some of the countries, projects would have come to an end/postponed or moth-balled.

MICE will grow and available capacity (flights, accommodation, conference facilities, etc.) will determine the rate of this growth. Countries like Rwanda has done extremely well in this regard with a few big gatherings in the past year or so.

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How would you rate the performance of the business travel market in 2017 and what should we expect in 2018?

The business travel market was under pressure in 2017, and the signs are that this trend will continue. Corporate activity has quietened down a fair bit, with projects being put on hold and moth-balled.

Technology (Skype, tele/video-conferencing, etc.) is playing a significant role in how corporates conduct business and specifically reduce business travel.

Does the government play a role in making the country a more attractive business travel destination? If so, how?

Rebone Motsatsi
Absolutely. I think it’s about creating a conducive environment to attract business and investments into the countries.

This is achieved through policies and reforms that ensure and encourages growth; fair trade competition and entrepreneurship within various industries and sectors.

It is also about understanding the interdependencies and integration of various sectors (tourism, mining, manufacturing, government, transport, communication, financial services, etc.) and their value chains and the economy at large.

What are your thoughts on the airports in Africa and the overall experience?

The airports in the region have grown by leaps and bounds. We’ve seen some big changes in the past two to three years. For example, airports in Francistown, Maun and Kasane in Botswana, Walvis Bay in Namibia, Maputo and Bulawayo in Mozambique and Zimbabwe respectively, have experienced some infrastructural developments from new and upgraded terminal buildings to runway constructions and upgrades.

However, the improvements have not only been on infrastructure. Processes (check-in, customs and immigration, etc.) have also improved making for a more pleasant overall experience.

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What sort of car rentals do you predominantly see in African countries? Mainly self-drive and a big uptake on SUVs?

It is a combination of both self-drive and chauffeur drive - the latter characterised by shuttle services between hotels/lodges, business centres and the main airports. The two options are country specific as the prevalence of either option fluctuates from country to country in the region. There is an uptake on bigger vehicles in general, with the key driver being the ever-improving road infrastructure in the region. However, small and medium-sized vehicles are still in the majority.
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