DA responds to Pilgrims Rest threat

2012-07-06 08:26
The Democratic Alliance in Mpumalanga has responded to the ‘shut down' of Pilgrims Rest, calling on Mpumalanga Premier, David Mabuza to urgently intervene and prevent the imminent disaster, Tourism Update reports.

"The DA's concern arises from the impact that the bid awarding process of leases in Pilgrim's Rest willhave on this historic town's sustainability, job security of employees, and tourism to the greater Panorama area," said Antony Benadie, DA leader for Mpumalanga.

"The impact of this dramatic change will be devastating for the job security of many employees, as the new lessees have not been put under any obligation to employ former staff members. In fact, the affected business owners have been forced to serve their employees with retrenchment notices, which would in turn affect hundreds of families in the area, adding to the unemployment burden," Benadie continued.

The DA has also expressed concern over the entire bid allocation process, and allegations that many successful bidders do not have the required capital to start up businesses in the premises they have been awarded.

The DA has written to the Premier and urged him to:

•Have the entire bid allocation process investigated and establish whether proper bid adjudication procedures were followed

•Ensure and guarantee that all successful bidders have the means to establish and start relevant businesses in Pilgrim's Rest

•Make available all successful bidders' business plans and how they relate to the history of the town

•Commit government to the protection of this historical town's heritage

•Acknowledge the importance of Pilgrim's Rest as a prime tourism destination in Mpumalanga

•Commit the administration to job security and job creation, and indicate government's plan of action to secure employment for those facing retrenchment

•Ensure that the transition runs smoothly without Pilgrim's Rest appearing as a ghost town during this process

"One cannot but wonder about the effects the change-over will have on tourism to both Pilgrim's Rest and the greater Panorama area. Tour operators offer packages exploring Sabie, Graskop, Pilgrim's Rest, God's Window, Bourke's Luck Potholes and the Blyde River Canyon, and if one of the major attractions of the package ceases to exist, the domino effect on tourism to the area will be devastating," concluded Benadie. 

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