AT the invitation of tourism stakeholders in the Eastern Cape highlands I and my media team and possibly some of our product owners will be shortly embarking on a promotional and information tour of that beautiful part of our country. Some may ask why.
People living and farming in those areas are prospective tourists in that besides the Wild and Sunshine coasts in the Eastern Cape, we are the closest beach destination for them so this is a market for growth.
Secondly, the product owners in those areas have a number of foreign and domestic visitors who seek to get to KZN after their stay so in effect these product owners can once fully informed make recommendations to come to our province (and in particular the South Coast) via the R56 and the N2.
This principle also applies to visitors to Lesotho who exit that country into the Eastern Cape Highlands.
Thirdly the R56-Karoo road is the shortest route to KZN from the Western Cape so once again we wish to tap into those market prospects as well rather than them going to Durban via the Midlands of KZN.
We will also be seek local publicity as a means of creating more interest in our destination and to deliver our popular Southern Explorer at as many tourism offices as possible.
It is important to us to create a tourism flow from the mountains to the sea and to highlight our hinterland tourism assets (e.g. Oribi Gorge) in between.
The secret being slowing the tourist down to spend extra days over a larger geographic area and thus broadening and keeping the revenue yields in our local economy. Hey, that snow-slope-to-surf option could be of appeal to many.
Finally, we will be looking at ways of possible collaboration with the tourism bodies in that part of the Eastern Cape in terms of joint promotions and collaboration.
Later on in the year, we will do a similar exercise in the Southern Drakensberg and the Midlands - after all if people are in KZN why not get them to our area at the same time.
We have to nurture and grow our domestic markets and what better way than having alliances with the tourism sector in the areas where our markets lie.
In heading for the hills, I am convinced our efforts will bear fruit.