Municipalities must sell themselves

2015-09-16 06:00
THE 2015 Lilizela Tourism Award winners.
 Photo: Boipelo Mere

THE 2015 Lilizela Tourism Award winners. Photo: Boipelo Mere

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MUNICIPALITIES were called upon to come on board in promoting tourism in the province.

The call was made by the Northern Cape MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, John Block, during an interview at the Lilizela Awards ceremony at the Kimberley Club on Wednesday (09/09).

The fact that municipalities did not even keep a record of tourist visits in order to do evaluations at the end of the year, proved that they were not selling themselves as expected, Block said. Doing this would enable them to identify the gaps in their vicinities.

He also suggested that local Information Centre offices be kept open round the clock to be accessible to tourists, especially when the province hosts big events or during busy periods of the year.

Rezoning was also put under the spotlight as a challenge that affected the local businesses.

Block emphasised that municipalities had to stop the delays regarding rezoning applications of guesthouses, as it was clear that most of them already qualified for three-, four- and five-star gradings.

“We should focus on empowering these local businesses as most of them are women-driven who are in the right business area but whose operations are being delayed.”

Regarding the fact that the awards ceremony resulted in 11 finalists as compared to the seven in the previous year, during which Francis Baard and ZF Mgcawu dominated, Block added: “We have experienced growth in participants, such as John Taolo Gaetsewe, Pixley ka Seme and the Namakwa regions.

“Surely we will see more entries from those areas next year.”

According to the MEC, there has been an increase and a huge improvement in the number of finalists and they were able to compete nationally.

Although he urged more black tourism entrepreneurs to enter the awards, he acknowledged that they needed financial assistance.

“Tourism is all about passion and people. You can sell a house, but you cannot sell a home. Tourism is a home. It sells experience. In most African houses, the least one can expect when you visit, is a glass of water. That is tourism X the easiest enterprise to get into. We have it! They should only reach out and grab the opportunity,” he said.

The department will take care of the finalists by paying for their accommodation, transport and meals during the national competition in October this year

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