Cape Town - The Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA) have set a goal for the province to be one of the Top 3 most visited in the country, within the next five years.
This plan was officially launched over the past weekend, when the ECPTA invited members of the media on a route showcasing some of the splendid natural and heritage tourism attractions in the Eastern Cape.
Siyabulela Lazarus, central regional tourism development manager for the province, told Traveller24 the five-year strategy plan will include raising awareness within local communities to deliver world-class tourism products and services that will uplift both these communities and the province’s status as a whole.
Lazarus says they hope to see a natural transformation within the EC tourism sector by providing the necessary training and management to locals, who can then continue to develop their own unique tourism products and services.
Current civil development ventures, which the ECPTA hopes to have completed by 2020, include the upgrading of various major roads in the area, adding to an enhanced visitor experience in the province.
The Eastern Cape is not only rich with South African history and cultural heritage, it also boasts with some of the most spectacular natural landmarks in SA.
The Wild Coast is known for the masses of river estuaries which separate the pristine subtropical beaches on this 250 kilometre-long stretch of paradise.
READ: 7 Secret beaches on the Wild Coast
Waterfall Bluff is perhaps one of the most spectacular estuaries as it is one of only three rivers to fall directly into the ocean.
The Eastern Cape is also the birthplace of many of South Africa’s most highly respected leaders. A visit to Qunu, the home of the ‘Father of the Nation’ and Nobel Peace prize winner Nelson Mandela, gives an inspirational insight into Madiba’s humble upbringing.
The Steve Biko Centre in King William’s Town, too, is a must-see for visitors looking for insight into the tumultuous political background of SA.
The EC tourism strategy plan cascades down from the National Tourism Development Plan, which “aims to make South Africa one of the top 20 global tourism destinations by 2020”, according to former minister of tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk.
So far in 2015, however, the National Tourism Development Plan has struggled severely mainly due to the implementation of new visa rules which are blamed as the main cause for a steady decline in overseas visitors - by as much as 14% according to the latest figures – to South Africa.
READ: SA visa rules: Alarming data shows serious pattern of tourism decline for SA
The National Tourism Development strategy is premised on three themes, namely the growth of the tourism economy, a goal to enhance visitor experiences and to strive for sustainability and good governance, according to Van Schalkwyk.