There is a drive to develop rural tourism assets globally, with inclusive tourism economies beneficial for both tourists and hosts. Through rural tourism, outlying communities are included in mainstream economies, tourists are afforded more authentic, nature-based experiences, and conservation becomes a central tenet. On the KZN South Coast, this welcome trend has unearthed unique tourism assets for potential investors.
Globally, the majority of the 1.8 billion youth live in rural areas of low and middle-income countries and are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults – as outlined by the United Nations World Tourism Organization. The result is forced migration to the cities, with local towns and villages dying out, while customs and heritage are lost.
“Rural tourism is a necessary solution to our growing youth unemployment, a way to retain local culture and traditions, and an important impetus for local conservation. On the KZN South Coast, we are committed to developing rural tourism assets to enhance our tourism offering for global tourists, while supporting local communities,” said Phelisa Mangcu, CEO of South Coast Tourism & Investment Enterprise (SCTIE).
KwaXolo Caves Adventures
One of the prime examples of rural tourism offerings is KwaXolo Caves Adventures on the KZN South Coast. The unique adventure heritage tour takes visitors into a series of caves that have centuries-old San artwork. These are accessed by a Ferrata (protected climbing) system with a guided tour of the caves, and impressive views of the gorge and waterfall.
The success of this rural tourism experience has prompted its development, with Phase 3 of the project currently in the final stages. The construction of an extended 1.06km zipline and landing deck will significantly enhance the experience for those looking for adrenaline tourism.
This presents significant investment potential for businesses to establish an on-site lodge for overnight stays, extended ziplining opportunities, transportation to and from the site, as well as recreational activities such as quad biking, paintball, and more.
Umzumbe River Trails
Hiking trails are an incredibly popular tourism attraction and the sector has been identified for development on the KZN South Coast.
This prompted the establishment of the 71km Umzumbe River Trails, a guided hiking or biking trail through the hinterland, offering participants a nature-based adventure alongside authentic Zulu experiences in homestays along the way.
One notable investment opportunity is the establishment of a lodge alongside the dam which has been supported by a feasibility report issued by Umzumbe Town Planning. There is also potential to develop recreational activities around the dam, which will extend the lodge offerings.
“As SCTIE, we will continue to engage with local communities, and traditional leaders to develop our rural tourism assets and uncover areas of further potential,” concluded Mangcu.