The Free State province’s tourism industry – particularly the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) sector – offers good investment opportunities, according to Kenny Dichabe, CEO of the Free State Gambling, Liquor and Tourism Authority (FSGLTA).
He was addressing delegates at the month-long Expo 2020, held in Dubai in December. South African Tourism hosted all nine provinces on its South African pavilion, giving each province an opportunity to showcase its tourism and investment opportunities.
“We have entered the MICE space and it has had a marked amount of success on a small scale. But an investment in an international convention centre will unlock a world of opportunities in that particular space. We appeal to all investors to consider the centrality of the Free State to build MICE in the province,” said Dichabe.
He has also called on investors to collaborate with the province to improve the Phakisa Raceway in Welkom. “It is a facility that has a huge amount of potential but it can only be unlocked with proper collaboration. I am inviting the audience and any investor who is interested in racing to come and hold our hands and assist us in repositioning that valuable government asset.”
The Free State’s central location makes it easily accessible by air and road from any of the country’s major cities, and many regional head offices are situated in the capital, Bloemfontein, which is also South Africa’s judicial capital.
FSGLTA’s Acting CMO, Tshediso Lerumo, noted: “The N1 road connects to Johannesburg in the north and Cape Town in the south, the N3 to Durban, the N6 to the Eastern Cape and the N8 to the Northern Cape. We pride ourselves as a self-drive destination. We have linkages to the six provinces [that border Free State], which makes us an accessible province.”
Collaboration key to success
Dichabe said collaboration with all spheres of government was crucial for the upkeep of the sector in the province. “The Free State tourism sector has improved its collaboration with local, provincial and national bodies as well as with natural and cultural institutions responsible for tourism marketing.”
He added that the province had realigned its tourism strategy to adapt to the changes brought on by the coronavirus. “As part of our strategy and repositioning of destination Free State, we are realigning the brand to make use of more innovative distribution channels and better promote tourism. We are developing a brand message that is common to all stakeholders and how it links to promoting tourism.”