R18,4 million hub to reignite PMB tourism

2011-10-19 00:00

THE MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Nomusa Dube, said Pietermaritzburg’s rich tapestry in culture and history could position the city to be a force to be reckoned with in tourism.

Speaking during the launch of the Msunduzi Tourism Hub at the city hall yesterday, Dube said the hub is part of a major drive to promote and position the city as a competitive tourism destination.

Dube said that KwaZulu-Natal is packaged as the country’s tourism jewel.

Recently, she said, the provincial cabinet accepted advice from the provincial planning commission that KwaZulu-Natal’s development strategy over the next 20 years should be geared towards economic and development drivers that will enhance the integration of the province into the global economy.

“Initiatives such as the uMsunduzi Tourism Hub are part of the practical programme of action to maximise the tourism potential of the province and ensure that the economic spin-offs culminate in the improvement of the lives of the people of this city,” said Dube.

The R18,4 million hub will set the tone for the rejuvenation of the Freedom Square precinct.

Cogta footed the bill.

The hub is expected to be completed in August next year.

The rejuvenation project already covers the Bessie Head Library, taxi rank and Peace Gardens.

Along with the establishment of the hub, the precinct will have offices, restaurants and tour bus facility as well as underground parking.

“The launch of this initiative comes against a backdrop of growing confidence in uMsunduzi as a tourist and major events destination.

“Recently the city was awarded the rights to host the UCI World Cycling Tour Final, which surely will go a long way in putting the capital city of our province on an international map,” Dube said.

In the past years, the city has been known for many wrong reasons which would have made it very difficult for tourists to think positively of this city, said Dube.

She said it is known that tourism thrives on the perception in which a particular destination, country, or city is held in the eyes of the prospective tourists.

She commended Mayor Chris Ndlela and his council for their spirited drive to rebuild the city, saying an assessment of Msunduzi has shown that it is on an upward trajectory.

Ndlela commended Cogta for funding the project, saying the municipality would not have been able to as the council has limited funds.

• thandom@witness.co.za

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