United tourism body for Msunduzi

2011-07-01 00:00

THE first step towards creating a tourism hub in Pietermaritzburg was taken yesterday with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by Msunduzi Municipality, Pietermaritzburg Tourism and the Umsunduzi Tourism Association.

This is a landmark decision because in the past Pietermaritzburg Tourism was seen as a body which represented the historically advantaged group, where as Umsunduzi Tourism represented the interests of the previously disadvantaged people.

Both tourism structures have been in talks to create a body that will look into deracialising the tourism industry in the city.

The MOU was signed by the Msunduzi Municipality’s acting manager, Thokozani Maseko, Pietermaritzburg Tourism chairperson Bunny Bhoola and Umsunduzi Tourism Association president Dumisani Mhlongo.

The city’s administrator, Sibisiso Sithole, said this is the first phase of the ongoing effort aimed at creating one tourism body which will act in the interest of the entire city and which could play a pivotal role in ensuring that there is transformation in the tourism sector in Pietermaritzburg.

“This will enable the municipality to channel funding to one tourism structure, unlike before when the municipality had a serious challenge seemingly supporting one structure at the expense of the other,” he said.

Sithole said tourism thrives even during a recession and it is one sector that is always growing.

He added the new understanding had the potential to both create and unlock job opportunities in various sectors.

Bhoola said, “Finally a moment has arrived that we have been fighting for so many years, [namely] to create one tourism structure that will benefit the entire community of Pietermaritzburg.”

Bhoola said the job opportunities are huge and promised the city that it will see a very committed group of people who are here make Msunduzi thrive on tourism.

Mhlongo said, “We are fortunate in Msunduzi because we have a lot of historical sites that have potential to attract foreign investment that will help uplift the standard of living for the people to the city.”

He said they will use the Soweto Heritage as the benchmark to ensure the success of this merger.

“We have always complemented each other as Umsunduzi Tourism Association and Pietermaritzburg Tourism so the move to merge these organisations will only bear fruits for the entire city,” Mhlongo said.

He said the fact that the city has sites connected with icons like Gandhi and Mandela and other historical sites should be an added advantage to making tourism a major contributor in revenue.

Msunduzi spokesperson Brian Zuma said the official launch of the tourism body should be made by the end of July, with Mayor Chris Ndlela officiating.

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