The Kruger-Lowveld Tourism (KLT) Roadshow was held at the Information Centre in Pilgrim’s Rest for tourism stakeholders on September 13. Every year, during tourism month in September, KLT presents the roadshow at a number of venues across the region to report back on their activities and receive stakeholder input.
Lisa Sheard, Manager of KLT, gave an enlightening and inspirational presentation clarifying the strengths and negatives of tourism in Mpumalanga. “Tourism is a force for good. We need to break down the fences which limit growth and empowerment. Start with yourself in your own situation” urged Sheard.
She stressed that tourism was currently one of very few growth sectors in the South African economy. It contributed to GDP growth as well as directly to creating employment. With all its unique attractions Mpumalanga is currently only in the fourth position for tourism in the country although, in the Ehlanzeni district alone, tourism contributed to 52% of the province’s GDP.
Sheard believed that considerable growth in the province was possible if everyone gave tourism pride of place. “There needs to be meaningful political buy-in with more tourism-savvy politicians and officials” emphasised Sheard. “The government must also understand its role as a facilitator for growth by attending to infrastructure, including roads and upgrading of public attractions, as well as ensuring excellent municipal services.” The government could also make better use of tourism experts in the area, for example by establishing a growth think-tank.
Private stakeholders can contribute significantly to tourism through innovation, including new attractions and events. It is also important to cultivate a “#We do tourism” culture amongst everyone who has even the slightest contact with visitors to our province. KLT has designed a one-day program to help develop a tourism mindset and will present it where groups of 20 or more participants can be brought together.