Tourism Month: Eastern Cape embarks on numerous initiatives to ensure they remain one of the greatest tourist destinations in the country
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Travel and tourism are some of the sectors most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, which impacted economies, livelihoods, public services, and opportunities in all provinces across the country.
But with health guidelines in place and South Africa’s vaccine roll-out gathering steam, the province of the Eastern Cape has embarked on numerous initiatives this tourism month to ensure they remain one of the greatest tourist destinations in the country.
Tourism Month is celebrated annually in September to highlight SA’s diverse tourism offerings as well as the sector’s significant contribution to the country’s economy. The 2021 United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) theme for World Tourism Day celebrations is: “tourism for inclusive growth”.
The theme links with Outcome 4 and 5 of the Government's Programme of Action that seeks to create decent employment through inclusive economic growth and a skilled and vibrant workforce to support an inclusive growth path.
Speaking at the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency provincial tourism month launch that was held at the Cradock 4 Garden of Remembrance last week, Finance, Economic Development, Environmental Affairs, and Tourism MEC Mlungisi Mvoko said they are officially kick-starting a series of tourism initiatives that will happen during September throughout the province, culminating with the celebration of the World Tourism Day on the 27th of September.
Mvoko said, on September 1, they were in Gqeberha, where the Nelson Mandela Bay District was launching their own tourism month. He added that what was significant about their launch was the announcement of the opening of two new airlift routes between Gqeberha and East London and between Gqeberha and Bloemfontein.
Mvoko said that was quite a highlight for them as they believe that the opening of these routes is central to ease of access for our province and its offerings as well as key for the recovery of the tourism sector in the province.
He said they are also expecting positive yields from the East London Beachfront Development project and the Water-World construction project that they are undertaking with Buffalo City Metro Municipality in East London.
“The six-day hiking trail from Coffee Bay to Port St Johns, currently under construction, is also set to bolster our efforts. Leveraging partnerships such as those with the National Department of Tourism (NDT) and the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) to access grants have resulted in significant investment in tourism and conservation products on reserves and tourism products outside of reserves.
“The provincial government also injected an amount of R42.9 million into the tourism value chain in this financial year through the Provincial Economic Stimulus Fund to improve reserves infrastructure. Some of the money that we have allocated to the Department of Transport in this financial year will be spent on improving roads infrastructure that connects our tourism amenities, including Hluleka Nature Reserve and Dwesa Nature Reserve in Willowvale,” said Mvoko.
“As we usher in tourism month, I want to reiterate, on behalf of the entire provincial tourism sector, our collective commitment to safe, sensitive, and sustainable tourism practices that are fully aligned with our new, post-pandemic health protocols. We know, as we gear up for a full programme of tourism month activities and celebrations, that many hospitality businesses have not survived, and countless tourism jobs have been lost. But our message is one of optimism and resolve,” he added.