Tourism Month is the celebration of people, places and products. With people at the heart of its brand, South Africa boasts a wealth of diverse landscapes, with cities, small towns, townships and villages populated with an array of tourism products to suit every traveller’s needs.
The 27th of September was celebrated worldwide as World Tourism Day (WTD), under the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) theme: “Tourism for Inclusive Growth”. The 2021 World Tourism Day was hosted by the Free State Province, where, as per norm, all nine provinces converged for the celebration of this important annual event in the tourism industry calendar. The global observance of World Tourism Day by the UNWTO aims to foster awareness of tourism’s social, cultural, political and economic value. With the 2021 theme: Tourism for Inclusive Growth, the celebrations aimed to inspire and highlight the initiatives that are poised to drive tourism recovery, in a “new and better normal”, post severe COVID 19 pandemic effects.
The Department of Economic Development, Environment, Conservation and Tourism (DEDECT) together with its agencies; the North West Tourism Board and the North West Parks Board had their hands full executing a Provincial Tourism Month Plan of activities. The Plan that was collectively developed comprised of tourism awareness and promotions activities which aimed for a heightened focus on the importance of tourism to the local economy, serving as an opportunity to promote domestic tourism by highlighting tourist attractions, showcasing tourism products and creating a culture of travel amongst South Africans.
With one week in September dedicated to one district in the province, activities followed a similar pattern. The NWTB hosted four (4) Stakeholder Engagement Sessions whose purpose was to present the newly developed (draft) Provincial Destination Marketing Strategy and to seek inputs from each district’s tourism players. The following 2 days were used as content build-ups for Tourism Fridays whereby, historical and heritage sites as well as tourist attractions in the regions were identified with the assistance of the districts.
These sites and attractions were visited with the aim of gaining first-hand experience and engaging with owners who interpreted their products to a media partner who formed part of the visiting team. The exercise was aimed at empowering media with experience and information for marketing and promotions purposes but also to educate the public on a variety of hidden tourism gems. Tourism Fridays focused on bringing the Tourism Month Theme alive and thereby showcased a diversity of tourism products including dams and water sports, adventure, wildlife, heritage sites, museums, accommodation establishments and township lifestyle experiences. Tourism Fridays were complimented by other activities which ran parallel such as the Cultural Tourism Seminar, Social Tourism Programme and Tourism Walk aimed at inculcating a culture of travelling amongst the North West University students and community at large hosted by DEDECT
Tourism Fridays began in the Dr R S Segomotsi Mompati District where the Tourism Month Media Launch was held, followed by Bojanala, Ngaka Modiri Molema with the finale at the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District.
True to the Tourism Month theme, the MEC for DEDECT officiated the official launch of Seboka Game Lodge in Koster last week, which is the first woman owned game lodge in the North West Province. This project was spearheaded by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, and could not have been realised 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 was realised. The owner, Ms Mpho Mathope is a seasoned tourism product owner, who has now added a new dimension to her business portfolio, whereby her experience in the management of accommodation and conference facilities will come handy.
Source: Government of South Africa