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 Rural Development”. This year’s theme was conceptualised as a recognition of 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. It is this communities that have suffered the most from the devastating impact the pandemic has had on the tourism sector.
The theme “Tourism and Rural Development” is very relevant in restoring hope to the tourism industry and putting the spotlight on the work that government has done in recent years in relation to improving the lives of ordinary citizens. The rural communities of the Northern Cape have not been spared from the effects of COVID-19 as is the case even in the most developed countries around the world.
The MEC for the Provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Mr Abraham Vosloo emphasised that the province will under the theme “Building the Northern Cape Together- Promoting Rural Development through the promotion of tourism experiences in our Villages, Townships and Small Dorpies” undertake a set of activities to foster tourism awareness in local communities especially within less visited rural areas of each region.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been with us for over four months and it feels as though it has been with us longer because its impact has affected our tourism sector 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. 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. 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 Province will use tourism month as an opportunity to showcase how tourism can promote the development of communities, people and economies in rural areas. Any successful tourism development, rural or not, depends on its commercial, economic and logistic issues including the quality of the products, accessibility, skills and interest. Rural areas are disadvantaged when compared to urban and more visited areas.
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’ tourism provides, it must also address serious challenges surrounding employment for all of these groups.
During tourism month we 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 different 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! 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.
September is also a heritage month and it will be celebrated from 1-30 September 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.
It is important to encourage your children to reading at an early age so that they grow up with the passion for reading as this develop a broader vocabulary and increased general knowledge.
The MEC Vosloo challenged the locals 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”, concludes MEC Volsloo.
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 – The BrightRock Battle of the Sports. 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.
The Tourism Month activities program will be available on the website: www.experiencenortherncape.com. #TourismMonth2020 #NorthernCapeIsTravelReady.
For more media enquiries please contact Mr. Tebogo Velembo from Northern Cape Tourism Authority on +27 (0)71 462 3150 or Mr. Ali Diteme from Ministry on +27 (0)67 945 2553.