South Africa: Northwestern Economic Development, Environment, Conservation and Tourism during Tourism Month
Tourism Month is the celebration of people, places and products. With people at the heart of its brand, South Africa is teeming with diverse landscapes, with towns, small towns, townships and villages populated with a range of tourism products to meet the needs of every traveler.
September 27 has been celebrated around the world as World Tourism Day (WTD), under the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) theme: “Tourism for Inclusive Growth”. World Tourism Day 2021 was hosted by the Free State Province, where, according to the standard, the nine provinces converged for the celebration of this important annual event in the tourism industry calendar. The global celebration of World Tourism Day by UNWTO aims to raise awareness of the social, cultural, political and economic value of tourism. With the theme of 2021: Tourism for Inclusive Growth, the celebrations aimed to inspire and highlight initiatives that are poised to boost tourism recovery, in a “new and better normal”, after the severe effects of the COVID 19 pandemic.
The Department of Economic Development, Environment, Conservation and Tourism (DEDECT) with its agencies; the Northwestern Tourism Board and the Northwestern Parks Board have had a hard time executing a Provincial Tourism Month business plan. The plan that was collectively developed included tourism awareness and promotion activities that aimed to place more emphasis on the importance of tourism to the local economy, serving as an opportunity to promote domestic tourism by showcasing tourist attractions, showcasing tourism products and creating a culture of travel among South Africans.
With a week in September devoted to a district of the province, the activities followed a similar pattern. The NWTB hosted four (4) stakeholder engagement sessions aimed at presenting the newly developed provincial destination marketing strategy (draft) and soliciting feedback from tourism stakeholders in each district. The following 2 days were used to create content for Tourism Fridays during which the historical and heritage sites as well as the tourist attractions of the regions were identified with the help of the districts.
These sites and attractions were visited with the aim of gaining first-hand experience and interacting with owners who performed their products at a media partner who was part of the visiting team. The exercise aimed to equip the media with experiences and information for marketing and promotional purposes, but also to educate the public about a variety of hidden tourist gems. Tourism Fridays aimed to bring the theme of Tourism Month to life and thus featured a variety of tourism products including dams and water sports, adventure, wildlife, heritage sites, museums, accommodation establishments. and life experiences in the cantons. The Tourism Fridays were complemented by other side activities, such as the Cultural Tourism Seminar, Social Tourism Program and Tourist Walk aimed at instilling a culture of travel in the students of the University of the North West and to the community in general, organized by DEDECT.
Tourism Fridays started in Dr RS Segomotsi Mompati district where the media launch of Tourism Month was held, followed by Bojanala, Ngaka Modiri Molema with the final in Dr Kenneth Kaunda district.
True to the theme of Tourism Month, MEC for DEDECT last week officiated the official launch of Seboka Game Lodge in Koster, which is the first female-owned game lodge in the Northwest Province. This project was carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture, Agrarian Reform and Rural Development, and could not be carried out at an opportune time than Tourism Month. In its entirety, it demonstrated Tourism for Inclusive Growth where the inclusion of a woman in a male dominated biodiversity management environment has been achieved. Owner Ms. Mpho Mathope is a seasoned tourism product owner who has now added a new dimension to her business portfolio where her experience in managing accommodation and conference rooms will come in handy.