Three countries, one trip

2011-10-15 18:01

Mpumalanga’s Big Five, Mozambique’s beaches and Swaziland’s culture all in one.

The three countries’ tourism authorities have entered into a groundbreaking agreement to market the region as one package offering different experiences with the aim of lengthening tourists’ stay, and increasing one another’s tourism revenue.

Mpumalanga Tourism Parks Agency, National Tourism Institute of Mozambique and Swaziland Tourism Authority launched the Triland brand last week.

SADC and local private tourism bodies have hailed the initiative as a step in the right direction for tourism development.

Southern Africa Tourism Services Association chief executive Michael Tatalias said the Triland brand would work.

“The geopolitical entities mean nothing to a tourist. A tourist doesn’t care about Mpumalanga, Mozambique or Swaziland but the experience of visiting a place.”

“(Triland) will result in a far greater penetration in the market. It’s a step in the right direction and we’ll see how they involve the private sector,” Tatalias said.

Mpumalanga is popular world-wide for its breathtaking landscape, nature reserves and the Big Five while Mozambique’s coastal area offers pristine beaches and its capital, Maputo, is known for its vibrant nightlife.

Swaziland offers a rich cultural experience and beautiful landscapes.

The Mpumalanga agency’s chief operations officer Edward Thwala said the three entities had spent R1 million each on the initiative already.

Thwala said: “Mpumalanga gets 1.3 milion international tourists a year and if we get 10% of these visitors to move across the border, that will add to Mozambique and Swaziland’s tourism statistics.”

Thwala said a number of issues still had to be ironed out, such as travel documents, flights between the three countries and introducing uniform grading standards for facilities and prices.

He said they were exploring the possibility of a single visa.

Tatalias endorsed this as a great idea to cut red tape at the border posts.

But Home Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said introducing a uni-visa would be a lengthy process.

“The minister will have to make a declaration and perhaps amend the law. However, our immigration officers can facilitate the movement of tourists into and outside the country within the framework of our immigration laws,” Mamoepa said.

Mpumalanga tourism stakeholders also welcomed the Triland initiative.

Highveld Tourism Association head Athol Stark said: “We believe the more you have on offer, the more chances you have of attracting people. “If marketing is done properly and good packages are put in place, this will definitely work.”

The Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism’s Lisa Sheard said the strategy could be hampered by financial challenges in Mpumalanga and Swaziland.

“Logistically, it makes a lot of sense for the countries to brand as one and the concept is good. But is there money behind this concept? We’re looking forward to initiating the project.”

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