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Tourism can grow NC economy – MEC

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To achieve the full potential of the tourism sector, tourism must be government led, private sector driven, labour conscious and community based

AWARD WINNERS: Northern Cape Tourism Month was launched in Kimberley last week which coincided with the popular Lilizela Tourism Awards. Seen here are the winners of various awards during the event. Picture: Supplied

NORTHERN Cape Tourism Month was launched in Kimberley last week and it also coincided with the popular Lilizela Tourism Awards.

Tourism Month is an annual celebration held 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 Jobs – A Better Future For All”. Its purpose is to foster awareness among the global community of tourism’s social, cultural, political and economic value and the contribution the sector can make in sustainable job creation – focusing on skills, education and jobs throughout the year.

During the launch, the Department of Economic Development and Tourism MEC, Maruping Lekwene, emphasised that tourism had the potential to grow the Northern Cape’s economy and improve job creation.

“Tourism is a major source of employment because of its labour-intensive nature and the significant multiplier effect on employment in related sectors. It is estimated that one job in the core tourism sector creates about one-and-a-half additional or indirect jobs in the tourism-related economy. Overall, tourism accounts for one in 10 jobs worldwide,” said Lekwene.

He added that to achieve the full potential of the tourism sector, tourism must be government led, private sector driven, labour conscious and community based.

“More inclusion strengthens tourism power to unite people across cultures in a celebration of diversity, increasing overall social resilience. Despite these benefits that tourism provides, it must also address serious challenges surrounding employment for all of these groups,” Lekwene said.

“During Tourism Month we actively promote domestic tourism through activation utilising the platforms created by the national Sho’t Left campaigns, we do tourism campaigns, social media and digitalisation platforms, seasonal offerings, routes platforms, hosting of FAM trips for trade and media to experience and sell the Northern Cape to our desired markets. We actively promote the destination through events, to showcase the unique culture, heritage, cuisine and most importantly the people of the Northern Cape,” Lekwene stated.

Lekwene further urged residents to not miss the SanParks Mahala Week, with SanParks running a week of free entry to selected parks within the Province.

“Open week at our provincial nature reserves offers outdoor enthusiasts and opportunity to visit Doornkloof Nature Reserve, Goegap Nature Reserve, Rolfontein Nature Reserve and Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve where they will enjoy free day entrance into the reserves. Visitors should especially enjoy the vast biodiversity of our national parks and nature reserves. At the same time they should strive to support our efforts to protect our environment and combat climate change,” Lekwene said.

The MEC pointed out that we are increasingly witnessing extreme weather patterns which not only threatens tourism destinations but the people and animals of this world.

“We should concern ourselves with the protection of our earth, combat excessive carbon emissions, protect our trees which are the providers of clean oxygen and ensure that we combat pollution, especially plastic pollution which is slowly strangling our marine life and oceans.”

Lekwene went on to say that 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 an “experience not to be missed”.

“Make the time to explore Mother Nature’s magic leisurely on foot and allow the sea of colour stretching over the horizon to literally take your breath away. 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.

“Some of the adventure and cultural events to be explored during Tourism Month are, Kalas Kuier Fees in Kuruman, Nama Quest MTB Flower Stage Race, Kalahari Desert Festival, Draai by Die Y, Ghaap River Xtreme, Desert Knight Motorbike Adventure, Witsand Kalahari Challenge and many other exciting events. Keep an eye on their website for more details: www.experiencenortherncape.com,” Lekwene concluded.

Also coinciding with the launch of Tourism Month was the Lilizela Tourism Awards that was hosted in the city last week.

Taking home some of the top awards were: Best hotel: Road Lodge Kimberley; best lodge: Mattanu Private Game Reserve; best guest house: Browns Manor; best self-catering establishment: Rhino Manor; and best tour operator: Touch Lets Go Travel and Tours Agency.