Business and pleasure mix well in Gauteng. While the province cannot compete with South Africa's two premier tourist destinations, Cape Town and the Kruger National Park, it's the centre of the business tourism market.
Gauteng means business when it comes to hosting meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions, as well as its own world-class tourist attractions in Cradle of Humankind, Constitution Hill and Dinokeng.
Business tourism also happens to be the fastest growing sector of tourism and one for which Gauteng is ideally placed. South Africa has been voted the 11th-best world conference destination. More than, 80% of business people enter the country via OR Tambo International Airport to the east of Johannesburg, and a considerable number do their business without leaving Gauteng.
Johannesburg alone has four international convention centres, while Durban and Cape Town, South Africa's two main cities outside Gauteng, each offer only one.
It is therefore no coincidence that when Gauteng's developmental agency Blue IQ launched 11 developmental projects for the province, no fewer than five were tourism ventures.
One of the drivers of the tourism turnaround in South Africa over the past 16 years has been business tourism. Both the national and Gauteng provincial governments have identified tourism as one of the top five economic drivers and job creators. It is on the agenda of every meeting of the Cabinet's economic subcommittee, and government and South African Tourism are helping business to secure international conferences.
Blue IQ projects
Two of the hottest tourist attractions in Gauteng - the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, and Dinokeng - are both in economically deprived areas and attract thousands of business visitors.
The government's policy is to invest in key infrastructure, such as carefully planned road development and a world-class interactive visitors' centre and museum at the Cradle, that would have to be self-sufficient.
Both the Cradle of Humankind and Dinokeng are being managed so as to benefit both the immediate community and the province. Businesses that offer tourists a different experience are evolving, such as indigenous restaurants, bed and breakfast establishments and tea gardens.
The City of Johannesburg chose Newtown cultural precinct as an entertainment hub in 2001, which has been hosting major cultural events ever since, especially in arts and music. It is an integral part of the regeneration of the Johannesburg inner city, with lighting provided around a series of pedestrian pathways in an environment of industrial art. No opportunity is missed to showcase Gauteng traditional dancing, arts and crafts and any number of exhibitions at Museum Africa.
Other Blue IQ-sponsored business tourism ventures include Greater Kliptown, an area of historical importance in Soweto, where in 1955 the Congress of the People adopted the Freedom Charter on which South Africa's bill of rights is largely based; and the Constitution Court, built on the site of the 19th century Old Fort premises, where thousands of pass offenders were incarcerated.