Tourism ‘a jobs driver’

2015-08-12 06:00
THE Northern Cape MEC for Tourism, Finance and Economic Development, John Block (left), and Kuberan Pekrisame, acting HOD of the Department of Tourism.

THE Northern Cape MEC for Tourism, Finance and Economic Development, John Block (left), and Kuberan Pekrisame, acting HOD of the Department of Tourism. Photo: Supplied

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“THERE are people who want to open guesthouses, restaurants and organise events, but they don’t get support from municipalities. We need to find a way to unblock the potential of tourism businesses in the province.”

These were the words of the Northern Cape MEC for Tourism, Finance and Economic Development, John Block, during the consultative tourism forum meeting that took place at the Flamingo Casino in Kimberley recently.

In an attempt to set up the Northern Cape as a tourism destination for extreme adventure following international events such as Bloodhound, the Kimberley Diamond Cup and the launch of the SKA, Block said that all district and local municipalities should come together to plan how to unlock the tourism potential of the province.

Municipal mayors and councillors joined the meeting that discussed topics such as the structure of tourism management and coordination, reviewing the tourism master plan, tourism growth, tourism infrastructure development and future engagements with the private sector to enhance tourism service excellence in the province.

A tourism awareness programme plan was also on the cards to capacitate municipalities to advance tourism development in the province. Block expressed concern that the tourism industry had been identified as a jobs driver and strategic key economic driver, but did not translate to municipalities.

“There is no place called province in tourism. Bloodhound, although it’s an international project, the Mier Municipality should be a big role player, just as Sol Plaatje should be a big role player in the Diamond and Dorings Jazz Festival. Many municipalities don’t see tourism as a driver for jobs,” Block said.

Block added that these consultative meetings were planned to take place once a month. The MEC pointed out that the main issue was that municipalities took long to give approval for rezoning rights. “During the World Cup we witnessed the rise of illegal businesses giving accommodation to tourists because of the delay with approval.”

Block urged the municipal mayors to ensure that locals should benefit from the major projects taking place in the province.

“The benefits of renewable energy is not felt by our local people. There is a mushrooming of a Spanish community in Upington. There is a security company from De Aar that is safeguarding the solar projects, but our local people could have been doing those jobs,” added Block

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