Why Ambassador Programs are Key to Attracting International Association Meetings


Two of the world’s most advanced ambassador programmes include Glasgow’s in Scotland and Melbourne’s in Australia


One of the greatest assets any Convention Bureau can develop to support its bids for international congresses is an «Ambassador Program.» Created from local leaders in the fields of science, medicine, technology, and academia, these are local champions who have direct access to board directors of international associations and societies.

The ambassador role includes leading a bid for hosting a rotation of the international association or society’s annual conference as well as to identify opportunities to attract inward investment, enable education and encourage skills migration in support of the local drive for growth.

Two of the world’s most advanced ambassador programmes include Glasgow’s in Scotland and Melbourne’s in Australia. Both of these programmes have delivered significant inbound events, inward investment, and talent to their cities and are recognized as central pillars to economic development.

And one of the top priorities set by the relatively infant South African National Convention Bureau under the stewardship of Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, has been to establish a national ambassador programme in order to advance and align the country’s bids for such events within sectors prioritized for growth by her government. Many of the selected ambassadors, introduced by SANCB’s member cities and provinces, were at the front line of hosted-buyer engagement at Meetings Africa 2015, held recently in Johannesburg.

Notably, each of SANCB’s ambassadors were individually recognised at the Meetings Africa Gala Dinner–such is the growing importance attributed to South Africa’s leading scientists and medics and their role in initiating and supporting bids for international events. While in Johannesburg, IMR met two of SANCB’s ambassadors to understand how, and why, the bureau has made such strenuous efforts to build international connections and to secure international business events as gateways to inward investment, skills migration, a growing reputation for scientific research capacity and capability, advancing South Africa’s march towards a Knowledge Economy.

We spoke first with Septi Bukula, founder and director at Osiba Holdings CC, whose efforts have already resulted in four successful bids since 2010.

As Professor of Pharmacology at the North West University [of South Africa]and former President of the South African Society of Basic & Clinical Pharmacology, Professor Douglas Oliver initiated (in 2002) and delivered (in 2006) the successful bid for the World Congress of Basic & Clinical Pharmacology 2014, advancing the reputation of South Africa for inward investment while contributing to capacity improvement, training, and skills development.


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