Jozi set for iconic bus service

2012-06-08 16:03
The Gauteng MEC of Economic Development, Qedani Mahlangu's budget speech has revealed some exciting plans for tourism in the province.

Most notably is the planned launch of Gauteng’s first hop-on hop-off bus in January 2013. Claus Tworeck will be bringing City Sightseeing, the number one open top bus, to Jozi. Soon tourists and residents alike will be able to jump on an iconic red bus and explore some of the CBDs most famous tourist locations.

From Constitution Hill to Newton and the Origins Centre at Wits this bus will allow visitors to explore the city’s history in a safe and convenient way, making the city more tourist friendly.  The buses, which operate in 100 cities on six continents around the world, will offer commentary in 17 different languages.

Dawn Roberston, CEO of the Gauteng Tourism Authority, says: “We are very excited about the new hop-on hop-off buses, they are sure to become a premier tourism experience in Johannesburg and in future we are looking at bringing the buses to Pretoria too.”

This year will also see a reorganization of the tourism entities in the province. The three tourism entities operating in the province - the Gauteng Tourism Authority, the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site and Dinokeng - are being merged into a single entity.

This move is informed by the development of the new Gauteng Tourism Sector Strategy following the Tourism Summit last year. To this end, and to grow the province’s tourism economy, a budget allocation of R157-million has been made by the Gauteng Department of Economic Development (GDED).

A focus area in the 2012/2013 financial year is growing a strong and vibrant domestic tourism portfolio which is an essential contributor to building a solid foundation for sustainable tourism growth and development.

To help Gauteng meet its targets, Gauteng Tourism has identified Dinokeng as the preferred destination in the province to host World Tourism day which is themed around the sustainable use of energy. Dinokeng has officially entered into a partnership with Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa - a non-profit organisation promoting the tourism businesses of disadvantaged communities and fair trade in tourism.

Says MEC of economic development Qedani Mahlangu: “This is a great opportunity to showcase Dinokeng and that urban Gauteng is green and boasts world-class leisure tourism experiences. Over 8.3 million foreign tourists visited South Africa in 2011 and Gauteng received nearly half of these international arrivals resulting in an increase in tourism revenue from R26,9-billion in 2010 to R27,5-billion in 2011. In spite of this encouraging growth we are placing a strong focus on sustainable domestic tourism development especially in the face of global uncertainties.”

The department is also looking at ways of leveraging off the unique fossils that are found in the province. One new development that is underway is to create the Fossil Casting Project which will establish a facility at the Sterkfontein Caves to cast fossils and other heritage objects that will be marketed to the scientific and educational community, museums and the general public. This will be implemented by Wits University and is expected to create a minimum of 50 new jobs for community members and impart significant skills in the process.

Robertson says: “It is our belief that the palaeoanthropological information and specimens need to reach a far wider audience, and this project is an attempt to boost this objective. This also falls squarely within our aims of making domestic tourism more appealing not only to international tourists but domestic ones and of creating employment and developing skills to grow a strong and vibrant domestic tourism portfolio that will grow our micro and macro economy.”

Thirty local producers at the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site will also benefit from the implementation of the Craft Product Development Programme that will be responsible for the production of a minimum of 90 unique new crafts that are linked to the tourism experiences at the site.

The GTA has made great strides in marketing Johannesburg. The city is no longer a no-go area for international and domestic tourists and the GTA has built strong partnerships within the industry, local communities and the media to showcase the numerous tourism gems within the city.

One of these, The Maboneng Precinct, provides work and recreation spaces to artists, filmmakers, fashion designers, actors, entrepreneurs and residents. The development continues to grow from strength to strength and offers both locals and tourist a unique urban experience.

These kinds of development have been supported by the fun GeePee domestic marketing campaign which has been inviting Gauteng residents to be tourists in their own backyards and is attracting an unusual breed of tourist – local pedestrians who are starting to rediscover their own city.
Read more on:    good news  |  travel south africa
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