CCTNSA supports new Rural Tourism Strategy launched by Minister of Tourism says Don Leffler
SOUTH AFRICA LAUNCHES ITS NATIONAL RURAL TOURISM STRATEGY
Published in Polityorg.za
Community beneficiation is at the heart of the National Rural Tourism Strategy, said Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk earlier today. The Minister presented the National Rural Tourism Strategy and also unveiled the third phase of the Donkey Cart Project in Wupperthal, Cederberg in the Western Cape.
“An emphasis of the strategy is the understanding that the development of rural tourism can make a powerful contribution to poverty alleviation in areas that are often characterized by poverty and under development,” Minister said. The strategy is an endorsement of the National Department of Tourism’s commitment to the development of rural economies in general and rural tourism in particular.
A number of problem areas hampering rural tourism development have been identified and these include:
i) tourism has been inadequately resourced and funded in rural areas.
ii) A number of key rural tourist attractions are located in rural areas and are not receiving the benefits stemming from the tourism industry.
iii) The limited involvement of local communities has also been identified as a major constraint in developing tourism in rural areas.
In order to address these challenges areas, the strategy has amongst its objectives:
i) to create a platform to share knowledge of best practice; development opportunities and challenges in rural areas for tourism development.
ii) to facilitate the coordination of rural tourism development initiatives amongst relevant stakeholders.
iii) to create an enabling environment for rural tourism development to stimulate job creation and
iv) to identify and recommend strategic areas/nodes for tourism development in rural areas within the sector.
The West Coast in the Western Cape has also been identified as a node for tourism development. This node includes the Cederberg area, hence the Donkey Cart Project feeds into the Strategy and epitomizes what the Rural Tourism Strategy seeks to address. Amongst the many interventions that the National Rural Tourism is intending to intervene on, there are other nodes which the NDT has also identified. These are Karoo, Maluti Drakensburg, Bushbuckridge and Vhembe Nodes. The commonality amongst Karoo and Maluti routes is that they are interprovincial tourism routes with Karoo Route covering Free State, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Northern Cape and the Maluti Drakensburg Route which borders on Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape. Lastly, there is the Vhembe node in Limpopo and the Bushbuckridge node in Mpumalanga which have also been identified as the presidential poverty nodes.
The War on Poverty Programme and the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme is currently being implemented in these areas by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform as well. All these nodes have presented a high potential for trade, accommodation, cultural products including world heritage sites. Having profiled these nodes to determine the level of need and potential, NDT will provide support on tourism infrastructure development, particularly where community led initiatives surface. NDT will further support the tourism skills base and assist with market access in support of sustainable community led economies and labour absorption in the markets.
“This strategy is also in line with the National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS) which highlights the issue of seasonality and geographic spread as challenges that make it difficult to spread the benefits of tourism. In supporting the geographic spread of tourism with more emphasis of supporting tourism growth in rural areas and enhancing the supply of rural tourism products, the NDT will focus more weight towards supporting tourism in rural areas, with the involvement of rural communities,” Minister said.
The Minister also unveiled phase three of the Donkey Cart Project. The Cederberg Donkey Cart Route is an initiative of the National Department of Tourism, which is community driven and offers visitors an authentic cultural and nature experience deep in the majestic Cederberg Mountains of the Cape West Coast. Phase 2 of the Donkey Cart Route was funded by NDT in the amount of 11.4 million and R4 million of this budget was allocated to the employment of beneficiaries. During Phase 2 an average of 178 persons per month benefited directly from the project from a wage and skills perspective. These beneficiaries were drawn from a number of local settlements including, Wupperthal, Heuningvlei, Witwater, Kleinvlei, Eselbank. All 14 deliverables were completed within the allocated budget with specific reference to:
§ The renovation of the bridge at Heuningvlei that now assures that the community is continuously connected to the outside world.
§ Trading area at Witwater to catalyze more formal participation in the tourism industry
§ Campsite at Kleinvlei from a tourism product development perspective
§ Water reticulation at Witwater ensuring that the community has a consistent supply of clean drinking water
§ In Wupperthal the Information centre was moved, renovated and visitors and locals now have access to the internet for the first time.
§ In addition to the deliverables, a community library was established in the community of Kleinvlei
One of the main objectives of the EPWP programme is to address the high levels of unemployment in South Africa. Unemployment is extremely high in the Cederberg region with seasonal work (mostly agriculture) being the only major job creator.
The project entails the development of a three day tour through the Cederberg mountain area and Heuningvlei, and a donkey trek route through Heuningvlei with accommodation facilities for overnight visitors. The aim of the project is to operate a community based bed and breakfast operation, catering for international and domestic tourists. The community is involved in providing catering and cleaning services as well as operating a donkey-carriage ride facility.
Furthermore the project aids in promoting tourism in the Cederberg area, and ultimately assisting in the community’s development and poverty alleviation.
Phase one and two of the project, focused on infrastructural development and creating an enabling environment for the project to be viable and profitable.
Phase three seeks to take advantage of the infrastructural development of the previous phases through the extension of the infrastructure network and identification of training interventions for the beneficiaries. The project will seek to absorb a minimum 234 beneficiaries, exposing them to experiential job training, social upliftment programmes and tourism industry awareness activities.
The NDT through its Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) budget has allocated R20 million for the third phase of the project.
Published in Polityorg.za
Don Leffler (Adv.)
THE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS (THSBS)
Specialists in Education & Training; Human Resource& Business Support Management
TOURISM CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE
Tourism Development & Education
University of Kwa Zulu-Natal
Travel & Tourism Discipline
School of Social Science, Faculty of Education
Edgewood Campus, UKZN, Durban 4 605