Sharper focus on rural tourism

23 May 2018

This financial year, the department will invest R6.2 million on skills development of 100 youth and women who will be trained in Tourist Guiding through the province.

In addition, the EDTEA has invested an amount of R20 million in the enhancement of rural tourism. These projects include the refurbishments and construction of new chalets at Ndumo Lodge; refurbishment of the Interpretation Centre Precinct, Accommodation Precinct and the Community Conservation Area at Ingodini Border Caves in uMkhanyakude and the refurbishment of Thokazi Royal Lodge around the District of Zululand.

“We have invested a further R1 million towards diversification of provincial tourism products and supply of rural-based tourism experiences,” said Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC, Sihle Zikalala.

These rural-based tourism experiences form part of the Land Restitution Programme and include the upgrading of Koppie Guest House (Mahlalela Community Trust) and Mkhuze Falls Game Reserve and Lodges (Nkunzana Community Property Trust) at uPhongolo Local Municipality. In partnership with Ilembe District Municipality, the department identified KwaShushu Hot Springs, situated on an island in the middle of the Thukela River below Ntunjambili as an anchor project where R 1.2 million will be used to ascertain the viability of the development.

To further cement its commitment to promoting KwaZulu-Natal as a tourist destination, the department invested R7 million to support events that have the ability to attract visitors to the province. “In partnership with the National Department of Tourism, we have also set aside a sum of R12.5 million for the refurbishment of the Nelson Mandela Capture Site,” Zikalala announced. The capture site, found in the Midlands, is a cultural and historical exhibition that is situated at the site at which Nelson Mandela was apprehended for his anti-apartheid activities acts in August 1952. This year, the province will be also hosting the east3ROUTE investment seminar and expedition.

Safety of tourists is a concern for the country and province, so late last year, the department joined forces with the National Department of Tourism to launch the Tourism Safety Monitors. Involving the communities that live in a tourism destination will help ensure the safety of travellers and is key to deterring tourist-targeted crime. The monitors will be recruited from, and placed in, the areas in which they reside to spearhead this ‘community watchdog’ approach to crime. In KwaZulu- Natal, 250 young people will be drafted into this programme, which will run for a year, with a prospect of an extension of a further two years.

The project is funded by the National Department to the tune of R20 million with a further amount of R6 million to be invested in a Hospitality Skills Programme around Umhlabuyalingana Local Municipality.