The 'Sizzling City' hosts Tourism KwaZulu-Natal and Stakeholders on Tourism Month.
The provincial tourism stakeholders braved the sizzling heat and attended the Tourism Month event recently. The event was held at the Pelican Island on the shores of the lake. In attendance were the MPL and MEC for Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Mr. Michael Mabuyakhulu; uMhlathuze Municipal Manager, Dr. Nhlahla Sibeko; CEO of TKZN, Mr. Ndabo Khoza and the Board Member of TKZN and the Chairperson of the newly formed UCTO (Uthungulu Community Tourism Organisation), Prof. Nzama. The event was part-sponsored by Mango Airline and First Car Rental.
The Municipal Manager Dr. Nhlahla Sibeko welcomed all the dignitaries present and appealed to the MEC, Mr. Michael Mabuyakhulu to lobby international investors to invest in the City of uMhlathuze, while emphasizing the need for diverse industries such as tourism since the city is an industrial economy which is reliant on commodities. “The Waterfront Precinct is going to make Richards Bay different” he said.
Prof. Nzama spoke candidly about the flight of much needed economic injection especially on weekends as many residents of the city opted for much interesting destinations for their weekend breaks, such as Durban. She said: “We have to put activities that will encourage people to remain in our sizzling city, we need to stimulate events that fight against seasonality and legacy events that have a potential to become annual”
Ndabo Khoza, the CEO at Tourism KwaZulu-Natal painted a picture of a destination that has everything going for it but lacking in key relevant tourism products needed by the market. “Something is missing here, we (TKZN) are talking to the Polish charter market who are looking at travelling to South Africa, but they are particularly wanting to do it in the northern KZN, they want resorts, there are ready but we are not ready” Ndabo Khoza emphasized that if the City of uMhlathuze has to prioritize anything at all in the tourism sector, that would be a resort. He further advised that the UCTO should work in close proximity with TKZN to work on the cruise tourism opportunities, fast track various programs such as training of tour guides, also the organization should explore a Central Reservation System which will ensure that all the members are part of the database and as such are able to benefit from tourists coming to the region. “It's quite often in the industry that some establishments are fully booked yet some are idling, since there is no central system to track on what is going on in the establishments around the area.”
The MEC, Michael Mabuyakhulu gave a global perspective on where tourism was at and its future prospects. Hinting on the general Asian sluggish economic activities that have had an impact on the sector growth, he however gave a sense of relief with the African market which is a key source market. The African market is huge on leisure and commercial activities, most Africans come to the country to do shopping since South Africa has a mature retail market which boosts the economy.
MEC and MPL, Mr. Michael Mabuyakhulu speaking of the Province on the rise.
Dr. Nhlahla Sibeko, Welcoming dignitaries and delegations during Tourism Month.