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NC Tourism Month launched

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With September being Tourism Month, local residents have been encouraged to visit tourist attractions in their backyards.

The Northern Cape launched its Tourism Month. Pictures: Supplied

WITH September being Tourism Month, local residents have been encouraged to visit tourist attractions in their backyards by exploring the small dorpies (towns) and rural communities in line with the provincial theme of “Villages, Townships and Small Dorpies”.

The launch of the Northern Cape’s Tourism Month took place on Friday. The virtual launch was attended by the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Fish Mahlalela, who pointed out that tourism in South Africa, as with other international tourism destinations, had been thrown into a crisis by the Covid-19 pandemic, placing thousands of businesses and jobs at risk.

Mahlalela added that Covid 19 had affected the entire tourism value chain negatively because of a decline in demand for tourism services.

“The nature of this pandemic and economic downturn has made it necessary for government to work closely with the private sector, labour, community and other actors to mobilise one of the largest economic response packages in the developing world.

“We all need to understand that the road to recovery will not be easy and as we strive towards the recovery of the sector, we have to work together.”

Tourism Month is celebrated annually in September to focus on the importance of tourism to the local economy and also serves as an opportunity to promote domestic tourism and create a culture of travel in the Northern Cape.

The theme for this year’s World Tourism Day is “Tourism and Rural Development”, which recognises the important role that tourism plays in the development of rural communities by way of poverty alleviation, employment creation and overall stimulation of economic activities.

The rural communities of the Northern Cape have not been spared from the effects of Covid-19 and MEC of the Provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Abraham Vosloo, pointed out that the pandemic had affected tourism in a negative way.

“The sector was opened to help restore livelihoods to the tourism industry while maintaining health and safety standards to protect tourists, employees and South Africans in general.

“While the country is on level 2 under the risk-adjusted strategy, the short-term focus is on domestic tourism and we believe the South Africans will travel and get to know their own country and also drive market demand to unprecedented levels.

The #BeyondLockdown Expedition, driven by #ISUZUSA to support #SAtourism, at Karoo-Gariep Conservancy near Colesberg, Free State Northern Cape border. Picture: Jacques Marais

“Domestic tourism is the first pillar on which the tourism recovery will restart. During this month, the focus will be to drive our domestic tourism campaign aimed at getting the locals and South Africans to travel and experience the natural wonders of the Northern Cape under the guidance of the health and safety protocols,” said Vosloo.

The focus for this year’s domestic tourism awareness campaign will be fostered in the local communities. This will highlight the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, and economic value.

The types and forms of rural tourism include provincial nature reserves and parks, cultural sites and indigenous areas most of which are generally rural, thus making tourism an important feature of the rural economy.

Developing the tourism potential in rural areas has the potential to bring a multitude of benefits if that tourism potential is realised.

Picture: Supplied

The various forms of rural tourism include: Agri-tourism mainly centred around wine, eco-tourism centred around natural areas promoting conservation, and cultural and heritage tourism cantered on archaeology, heritage sites, crafts, museums and battle sites.

The Northern Cape will use tourism month as an opportunity to showcase how tourism can promote the development of communities, people and economies in rural areas and address the serious challenges surrounding employment.

During tourism month, the Northern Cape will actively promote domestic tourism through the Travel Week campaign, aimed at getting South Africans excited about domestic tourism, and enjoying what the sector has to offer.

During the Travel Week various products are sold to the public at discounted rates. This strategy gets South Africans talking about domestic tourism and during this Covid-19 period, the campaign can be used to restore hope in the sector and get South Africans out of their homes and travelling safely to explore their province.

Visitors, local and domestic, should not miss the Namaqua flowers, a natural phenomenon that is considered to be one of the world’s botanical wonders and definitely an experience not to be missed.

From Springbok in the north of the Province to Kamieskroon in the heart of the Namaqua, along the Hantam area to Leliesfontein and Nieuwoudtville on the edge of the escarpment, each flower region offers its own unique appeal and combined with the warm hospitality and authentic cuisine of each area a true “bucket list” experience.

September is also a heritage month and it will be celebrated from September 1 to 30 under the theme “Youth, Entrepreneurship and Heritage Sustainability in Africa”.

The government calls on all South Africans to use Heritage Month to foster greater social cohesion, nation building and a shared national identity. The celebration of Heritage Month has created a conducive environment for all people to embrace and celebrate what was inherited or bequeathed to us by our forebears.

MEC Vosloo challenged local residents to become true tourism ambassadors and go out to experience their province.

“Let’s work together to make our tourism industry one of the best in the world. Together we move Tourism in the Northern Cape forward, let us all support our rural tourism products and help to grow their experience to further create sustainable experiences that we can sell to the national and international market,” Volsloo said.

Some of the events to be explored during Tourism Month include Bright Rock Battle of the Sports, one of the biggest fundraising initiatives in the history of South Africa.

This event will see 12 of Mzansi’s leading cricket, rugby, soccer, and running heroes as well as expedition-leader extraordinaire, Erik Vermeulen, go head-to-head in an all-out 200km endurance race against time – unassisted, unsupported and challenged by an expedition clock that never stops on the dry salt pans of the Verneukpan in the Northern Cape.