Tourism Development Insights in Economic Development and Tourism’s Provincial Budget SpeechAuthor: KLCBT | Published by KLCBT on 01 June 2018 at 07:45:13 | Last Updated On: 1 June 2018
Sustainable Tourism development and growth
As the world celebrates the centenary of the renowned icon uTata u Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, as the Province of Mpumalanga we have our own story to tell.
Soon after Madiba was released from prison in 1990, he spent about two weeks in one of our reserves, Mthethomusha nature reserve where he strategised on the preparation towards the dawn of democracy in our country.
This strategy session was followed by a hunting expedition at Songimvelo nature reserve.
In 1996 he presided over the official opening of the Samora Machel Monument in Mbuzini in the Nkomazi Local Municipality.
This giants footsteps can be traced throughout the length and breadth of the Province, a true journey man who taught us to do sustainable tourism, locally.
He wisely chose our beautiful province and our nature reserves in particular to relax, regroup and plan what was probably the most important and historic plan ever to be set in motion.
Even Madiba knew that the Place of the Rising Sun is the tourism destination of choice for both leisure and business tourism.
The tourism industry is South Africa’s engine of economic growth, and is one of the largest and fastest growing sectors worldwide.
To this end, we will continue to diversify tourism product offerings in order to position the province as a Meetings, Incentives, Conferences/Conventions, Events/Exhibitions (MICE) destination of choice thereby stimulating leisure tourism.
According to the International Conferences and Conventions Association (ICCA) 2017 survey, 56% of MICE delegates prefer hotel facilities, 23% favour conventional venues such as ICC’s whilst 21% are inclined to use any other locations.
Kruger National Park is ranked 13th in Africa in respect of Association meetings held in 2017 which resulted in a direct economic impact of R 16.3 million.
There is no reason for Mpumalanga not to double this number with focus on the accessibility of our attractions which includes infrastructure upgrades.
In the current financial year we will embark on an ambassadorial programme working with different stakeholders to champion the promotion of Mpumalanga as a MICE destination.
In short, Honourable Speaker, this calls upon all of us to appreciate the symbiotic relationship between MICE and leisure tourism, which will be led by the Mpumalanga Convention Bureau.
To this end, we will continue to diversify tourism product offerings, support the introduction of new tourism products and refurbish infrastructure in our reserves to take advantage of the positive developments in the sector.
The Gert Sibande district has the kind of rich history that can make it a niche tourism product, particularly in the Struggle for Liberation amongst others.
In an endeavour to fully exploit tourism potential, we will assist the municipalities in the district to elevate the liberation giants of our struggle such as Dr Pixley Ka Isaka Seme, Gert Sibande, Saul Mkhize and Mahatma Ghandi who lived and worked in this region.
In the current financial year, we will engage all the relevant stakeholders on a programme to restore and preserve Mahatma Ghandi’s prison cell in Volksrust and all memorabilia to ensure ease of access for tourism purposes.
As a rainbow nation, we also have a history of the Voortrekkers and the Anglo Boer war that needs to be exploited as a tourist draw card for the region.
MTPA will assist the municipalities to package and market integrated tourism products of the region, starting with Dr Pixley Ka Isaka Seme, Lekwa and Govan Mbeki municipalities during this financial year.
In Nkangala, the focus will be on mining, culture and heritage as the anchor of tourism promotion in the region which includes mapping of the second phase of the liberation route for tourist consumption.
We have an international icon Dr Esther Mahlangu who is revered all over the world, and the MTPA working with the Department of Culture, Sports and Recreation, Dr JS Moroka Local Municipality, her foundation and others will ensure that Dr Mahlangu is recognised for the tremendous contribution she has made to arts and culture in the province and the country.
We have collectively committed to helping her realise her dream of building a school to further her work of preserving and promoting the Ndebele culture and tradition.
We take note of and commit to do everything possible to address the infrastructure conditions of our tourism access roads in the province.
Our focus in the coming period is to revive all tourism structures such as Regional Tourism Organisations (RTO’s) and Local Tourism Organisations (LTO’s) in our quest to foster unity of purpose between ourselves as government and the private sector including our traditional leaders.
The Department will also convene a Tourism Summit during August this year to map a joint industry programme to restore the province as a premier tourism destination in the country.
To ensure the safety of tourists in our strategic areas, the MTPA has been appointed as the implementing agent for a pilot project by the National Department of Tourism who have provided Twenty Million Rand (R20 million) for recruitment, training on safety and tourism as well as exit opportunities for placement of 250 Tourism Safety monitors this year.
This number will augment the existing capacity of tourism safety monitors currently administered by the Department of Community Safety, Security and Liaison.
I am pleased to announce that the study to rejuvenate tourism at both Pilgrim’s Rest and Emgwenya formerly known as Waterval Boven have been concluded.
We are currently weighing the various options available to us to take these projects forward as suggested by the studies.
The Public Private Partnership (PPP) regulatory processes on the Cable car and Skywalk projects have been approved by National Treasury which paves the way for the advertisement of Request for Proposals (RFP).
We anticipate conclusion of this procurement process in the second quarter of 2018/19.
We are also working towards the conclusion of the commercialisation of Zithabiseni Resort during the second quarter of the current financial year.
With regard to the declaration of Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains as a World Heritage Site, we can report that it has been tentatively listed by UNESCO pending the decision in July 2018.
With regard to the improvement of infrastructure conditions in the reserves, we have completed tourist accommodation upgrades in the Manyeleti; Andover, and Loskop Nature Reserves.
New tourism attraction facilities in Manyeleti such as a Caravan Park Site equipped with 20 parking bays and a Day Visitor Centre with two swimming pools, braai areas, tuck-shops and a soccer field have also been developed and will officially be opened later this year.