Tourist centre falls into ruin

2011-03-12 00:00

A R3,2 MILLION tourism facility in kwaXimba tribal authority in the Valley of a Thousand Hills has been extensively vandalised, leaving crafters without a venue to sell their products.

Various stakeholders were involved in the building of the Isithumba Adventure Tourism Centre in the 1990s with the aim of attracting tourists to the area so that locals could sell their pottery, beadwork and animal skin outfits, among other craft work.

The stakeholders include eThekwini Metro Municipality’s economic development unit and the Environmental Affairs Department .

They contributed towards the building of an accommodation wing, a conference and training centre, a hall, ablution facilities, kitchen and a restaurant.

A shop was built for local crafters to display and sell their wares.

Community member Zondeni Hadebe said the centre “went to the dogs” after the death of Ernest Duma, the only person who knew how to run it, after it was officially opened in 2002.

“I believe it’s people from around here who destroyed this centre.

“This place would be booked for conferences; tourists would descend on the area with locals standing a chance of selling their work. Now the place has been torn apart,” said Hadebe.

She said that renovation is occasionally discussed in community meetings, but with little progress towards this end.

“At one stage we were told that 200 people from the community will be employed to renovate the centre, but that never happened as we didn’t know who will be paying us for the job, let alone paying for the material required,” she said.

Duma’s widow, Nomusa, said that when her husband died in September 2008 the centre fell apart.

“He spent his time at that centre and we all benefited because I’m among those who would sell beads when tourists arrived.

“Before the Football World Cup we were promised employment to renovate the place, but that never happened. I’m disappointed in my community for ruining such an opportunity.”

The head of business support and tourism at Durban Tourism, Phillip Sithole, said plans are in place to refurbish the centre and to have a permanent employee oversee it.

“When the centre was built there was no operational plan in place to run it.

“We are already communicating with eThekwini Municipality’s rural area-based management programme office to pave the way forward in reviving the centre,” said Sithole.

The head of Ethekwini’s economic development unit, Shunnon Tulsiram, said the municipality is one of the stakeholders who formed a management committee that oversaw the project implementation.

“The committee met every fortnight to monitor the progress of the project, approve decisions and ensure that there was transparency and accountability during every stage of the project implementation,” Tulsiram added.

“However, it must be noted that this was and still is a community-owned and -managed project.

“As a municipality we played our role in facilitating the establishment of the centre.”

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