Mangaung lags behind with tourism ideas

2017-01-18 06:01
Unathi Sonwabile, social observer

Unathi Sonwabile, social observer

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Bloemfontein is super boring during the festive season.

It all started on Facebook, with Segomotso Palesa Mo­tsumi and Tokelo TK Marumo actively involved.

“I’m feeling emotional,” said Motsumi.

“It saddens me to see such talk about Bloemfontein.

“My family and I spent our day at a local game reserve, which has a dam, 30 minutes’ drive outside the city.

“Chalets, picnic areas, game to watch and a great event space for small gatherings.

“The place has so much potential.

“However, it could be better with some kind of attention from the local tourism department.

“Abuti Unathi Henama – people like yourself come from Bloemfontein and work as tourism experts. What can we do to compete with other cities in terms of culture, tourism and creating jobs in our province?

“Surely we cannot all go out of the city or province all the time to seek entrepreneurial opportunities or even stay complacent. I refuse to believe this about Mangaung.”

I did not spend my festive season in Bloemfontein, as I had invitations from Limpopo and the Eastern Cape.

I have a passionate love for the Free State and as a Free Stater in the diaspora, I have begun to lag behind.

In the early 2000s, Bloemfontein was defined by the Vuka Festival on 16 December, with visitors coming into the city. They would require a plethora of products and services, accommodation, food and beverages.

All of these boosted the local economy through expenditure.

Late last year, a friend from high school, Jelly, was in the city with his family during the Kumbulekhaya programme.

He indicated there was basically nothing to do in Bloemfontein, as the malls close early and activities to exploit the arrivals were practically non-existent, focusing on families.

In contrast, the city of Polokwane hosted a comedy festival in the festive season, featuring Sepedi-speaking comedians such as Mashabela.

Patrons in attendance were young and old.

The comedy festival was part of the greater Mapungu­bwe Arts and Heritage Festival launched by the Limpopo Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and was supported by the municipality.

The Mapungubwe Music Festival became the deciding factor for those that were from Limpopo on whether to go home or not.

Limpopo benefitted from increased arrivals.

Traffic was jam-packed on the N1 to Limpopo due to people heading to the festival.

Arriving in East London, a sign at Eastern Beach greeted me: “Buffalo City Tourism welcomes you!”

The city was abuzz with visitors to music festivals that attracted tourists from near and far.

  • We still observe with shock how the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality is lagging behind in tourism. The city hosted the South African Sports Awards for the second year running and I was part of the media team. I had expected at least the “101 things to do in Mangaung” to be part of the media pack. Let us hope the event becomes a seed that germinates into future action for entertainment. Unathi Sonwabile Henama is a tourism researcher at the Tshwane University of Technology and writes in his personal capacity.) Express welcomes anyone interested in contributing to the weekly column. There is no payment for writers. Send your opinion piece (not exceeding 500 words in Sotho or English) via email to teboho. setena@­volksblad.com.

Writers are welcome to send spiritual articles.

Unathi Sonwabile

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