Sustaining tourism on the South Coast

2016-11-17 06:01

THIS week I am attending the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa’s (Retosa) conference on sustainable tourism in Johannesburg which I expect will be very informative with a number of SADC case studies in community based tourism being presented to highlight gains, pitfalls and practical recommendations.

Here in the Ugu District we have been involved in programmes geared towards community orientated rural projects which in due course will become prominent features within our diverse and rich tourism landscape.

Already the Nyandezulu initiative is up and running and the Wild 2 South Coast Walk has within its offering inclusion of the KwaNzimakwe area which we anticipate will become a stand- alone sub destination in our hinterland. In a peri-urban context, there are moves to establish the Gamalakhe Heritage Park, which if fused to other experiences, offerings and tours in the immediate area, will provide our visitors with excellent insights into our cultural heritage and contemporary satellite town lifestyle.

The Kwa Xolo Caves initiative, once clear in terms of its ownership and business model will be a value adding element to the strong beach sell we enjoy.

Further from the coast at Mount Nebo near Harding, there are plans to expand on the excellent entertainment centre there to include adventure and adrenaline experiences within a forest and agri-eco tourism context. Feasibilities are being conducted and hopefully early in 2017 the attraction will have a clear way forward in its development.

In the longer term the proposed Umzumbe River Trail will provide outdoor enthusiasts with a unique trail with an authentic Zulu hosting element along about a 65 km route from the coast and inland to the rolling hills of Umzumbe.

The intention of all these initiatives is to establish product platforms from which direct economic benefit can accrue to local residents and entrepreneurs.

Gone are the days of extended subsidies for product development initiatives and as such, Ugu South Coast Tourism will ensure that responsible operational models are put in place to back the objectives of sustainable tourism and afford people opportunity to derive appropriate livelihoods from our tourism and leisure sector.

So going forward, the magnetism of our beaches and ocean will remain our primary drawcard, however, the programmes away from the coast will reinforce the need to diversify our appeal to meet a much broader set of market niches and needs that are emerging.

Once this has been achieved then I am confident that our wonderful destination can be as complete as possible.

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