In celebration of UNWTO’s theme for World Tourism Day – Tourism and Rural Development – some of South Africa’s provinces showcased what they had done to support rural tourism while also showing their readiness to welcome tourists.
As the host province for the World Tourism Day celebrations, Gauteng showcased its readiness through the hosting of a health- and safety-compliant event at Maropeng World Heritage Site.
Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said she was encouraged to see the adherence to safety protocols and, over the upcoming festive season, hoped to see many more events successfully executed.
She also focused on the location of the celebrations being an important focal point of tourism in the province. “Our heritage sites are a good driver for both domestic and international tourism. The Cradle of Humankind tells a universal story of the origin of humanity and human evolution both in scientific and social and cultural terms, thus making this a heritage site of the human species as a whole.”
The Western Cape used the opportunity to announce the launch of the fifth route in its Cape Cycle Routes network. The ‘Karoo Crossing’ stretches 358km from Knysna to Calitzdorp and brings tourists to the rural towns of the Central and Klein (Little) Karoo.
“We need to showcase our great attractions and experiences, and small towns and rural communities… and we need to do that so that people in small towns and rural communities benefit from tourism in the Western Cape,” said Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier.
The province used a short video to showcase the area’s iconic safari and adventure tourism offerings.
“Mpumalanga is one of the most beautiful provinces in the country,” said CEO of Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency, BJ Nobunga.
He reiterated the importance of rural development. “When you talk about rural tourism, you are talking about the upliftment of the communities where the beauty is.”
Nobunga confirmed that tourism in Mpumalanga was ready to welcome tourists safely and invited all to explore the province’s natural spaces.
The vast province showed off images of the west coast, the Karoo and the famous Big Hole in Kimberley.
“The Northern Cape is a very rural province, with three or four large towns. Our focus in the Northern Cape will be on the development of these smaller towns within our province,” said Chairperson of the Northern Cape Tourism Authority Board, Collin Fortune.
“They lend themselves to tourism because they enrich our cultural development,” said Fortune, highlighting the living heritage sites of the Khoi San people, for which the Northern Cape is home.
Throughout the course of Tourism Month, all celebratory activities were taken to the North West’s most rural communities, said Chairperson of the North West Tourism Board, Vincent Phusoane.
“We are taking tourism awareness training to the rural communities,” he added. “We are developing the rural tourism products and experience offerings as a province. We are now looking at using film industry locations as a catalyst for tourism development.” He explained that through filming in rural areas, film makers turned rural areas into tourist attractions.
The province’s presentation featured clips of balloon safaris and the iconic Sun City Resort, which has safely reopened to tourists.