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NC part of marine tourism plan

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The vision is to grow a world-class and sustainable coastal and marine tourism destination

File image. Picture: Allen Walker

THE RECENT cabinet approval of the Coastal and Marine Tourism plan, aimed at growing a world-class and sustainable coastal marine tourism destination, will include a focus on the Northern Cape’s West Coast.

Minister of Tourism, Tokozile Xasa, has welcomed the Coastal and Marine Tourism (CMT) plan, pointing out that it will advance the nine-point plan through Operation Phakisa’s Oceans Economy.

According to the Department of Tourism, the implementation plan was developed in partnership with various tourism stakeholders. The vision is to grow a world-class and sustainable coastal and marine tourism destination that leverages South Africa’s competitive advantage in nature, culture, and heritage.

“The coastal and marine tourism sector will contribute about R21.4 billion to the GDP and create about 116 000 direct jobs by 2026, thus reducing poverty, inequality and unemployment, while contributing to sustainable livelihoods and development. These estimates are conservative as they are growing off a low 2015 base of R11.9 billion direct contribution to GDP and 64 400 direct jobs,” Xasa said.

The plan will be implemented in a nodal or cluster approach which will prioritise destinations rather than individual tourism projects or products.

The identified nodes/clusters in the First Phase (0 – 5 years) encompass the following geographic areas:

Node 1: Durban and surrounds

Node 2: Umkhanyakude District

Node 3: Port St Johns to Coffee Bay

Node 4: East London, Port Elizabeth and surrounds

Node 5: Cape Town and surrounds

Node 6: West Coast and surrounds (Northern Cape)

Initiatives in all of these nodes cover six thematic areas including marketing, events and routes; regulations and permitting; research and spatial planning; beach precinct development, tourism infrastructure and tourism safety; maritime tourism; and skills development.

Xasa pointed out that over the last year, three initiatives, namely the Blue Flag beaches programme, boat-based whale watching and shark cage diving and off-road vehicle 4X4 beach driving had kicked off.