Eco-touism: R40 million boost to KZN parks’ roads

2009-02-12 00:00

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has secured R40 million from the provincial treasury to upgrade access roads to its parks in the run up to the 2010 Soccer World Cup and had prepared a submission for the treasury that indicates what is needed to upgrade facilities to three-star status.

Its eco-tourism brand will be relaunched at this year’s tourism Indaba and major strides have already been made in commercialising some areas currently under its management and outsourcing certain operations.

Consultants have already submitted recommendations for the privatisation of the Royal Natal National Park while Ezemvelo is considering whether to continue running its curio shops.

These are just some of the shake-ups to be expected under the leadership of newly appointed chief executive Dr Bandile Mkhize, who was formally introduced to the organisation’s key stakeholders in Durban yesterday.

Presenting a comprehensive plan to take Ezemvelo forward and run it “like a well-oiled machine”, Mkhize called for a paradigm shift in key areas. As part of an efficient financial strategy, he said Ezemvelo needs to optimise its own funding of strategic business areas while securing additional external funding.

Priorities listed included the implementation of new services and products, internal integration across business and support units, optimising strategic alliances with relevant stakeholders, ensuring effective and efficient management of the organisation’s resources and management of organisational risks.

Mkhize also noted that in order to take the organisation to the next level, it was important to look after its employees.

He said the organisation also wanted to foster new strategic partnerships. This encompassed the resolution of outstanding land claims as well as relationships with communities that were the beneficiaries of its community levy fund.

In addition to improving the distribution of these funds, Ezemvelo intended liaising more closely with bodies such as the department of Education to ensure they were used effectively, He said that this department was often unaware that Ezemvelo had built classrooms for local schools and these were not used properly as a result.

He said there had already been progress towards normalising the reportedly strained relationship between Ezemvelo and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park authority. They clearly needed each other and plans were already afoot to strengthen their relationship.

MEC for Agriculture and Environmental Affairs, Mtholephi Mthimkhulu, confirmed that “the situation has calmed down at Ndumo”, where members of the local community cut fences and attempted to reclaim parts of the park that they claimed were theirs in terms of a land claims settlement.

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