The Panorama Route it is fast losing its attraction as a prime tourism destination due to the poor state of the roads – and the local population is feeling the consequences. Business owners throughout the region have reported that this Easter season has been the worst in many years.
Oupa Pilane, President of the Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism (KLCBT), recently issued a plea to the Mpumalanga Provincial Government to value tourism more seriously as a significant source of income and job creation – and to start by fixing the roads.
“The Panorama Route has the potential to create even more desperately needed jobs, especially for the youth in our province. It is a low-hanging fruit that can be maximized to create new and inclusive enterprises that will see more of our previously disadvantaged people taking an active role in the tourism industry,” Pilane emphasized.
However, many tourists no longer want to travel in the area due to the state of the roads and many jobs are currently on the line as the economy in the region declines. “Guests who make reservations through Tours and Tickets complain to our consultants all the time about the state of the roads,” said Eva Wagner, Director of Tours and Tickets (SA), which is based in Hazyview. “They say they were here last year and since then nothing has been done.” She also said that they receive numerous reports about visitors stuck on the side of the road with damaged tyres and, compared to the past, the number of bikers in town has dwindled.
KLCBT has had extended engagements with the government about the neglected state of the roads in the Province, especially those of the Panorama Route. “Our requests have fallen on deaf ears. Minor sub-standard interventions were attended to but due to the poor quality of work, the roads have become even more dangerous than they were before,” Pilane explained. “Our province’s reputation as the country’s inland tourism destination of choice is being jeopardized by the inability of the Mpumalanga Provincial Government to play their part. This has to be corrected.”