The year-long warm weather, phenomenal natural resources and world-class tourist offerings make the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast an ideal location for visitors. And this World Tourism Day – Friday, 27 September – Ugu South Coast Tourism (USCT) will use this platform to highlight exactly how it is positioning the KZN South Coast as a global tourist destination.
South Africa is battling record unemployment rates, the knock-on effect of which is far-reaching social challenges. Tourism has long been identified as one of the drivers of job creation, and this is being promoted through this year’s UNWTO World Tourism Day theme, ‘Tourism and Jobs: A Better Future for All’.
According to a recent Business Maverick op-ed by Dr Miriam Altman, a commissioner on the National Planning Commission in the Presidency, tourism speaks to almost every objective of government’s National Development Plan.
In her piece, Altman states that, in tourism, “…about 60% of jobs go to youth and up to 70% to women. It is geographically dispersed, stimulates small firms, increases global commercial presence, injects foreign demand and earns foreign exchange, creates awareness for investors and fosters cultural understanding. SA already has a competitive advantage as recognised by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).”
CEO of Ugu South Coast Tourism, Phelisa Mangcu, said Ugu District Municipality has identified tourism as a key contributor to the economy of the region. USCT – as the implementing agency in charge of growing tourism in the region – is implementing a number of strategies to ensure its continued success. These include developing new routes to rural communities in order to create exposure for agri-tourism, culture and heritage products. Furthermore, USCT is promoting the region as an emerging business tourism destination in order to attract MICE activities (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events).
“We are involved in a number of marketing initiatives, locally and abroad, to put the KZN South Coast on the global map,” explained Mangcu. “This region is renowned for its wonderful beaches and marine-based activities, but beyond this we have so much to offer. It is our role, as USCT, to expand the geographical footprint of tourism, opening up the entire South Coast to the associated benefits of the resultant economic instream. This is made even more relevant in September, as we celebrate the incredible culture and traditions of this region on Heritage Day.”
Some of the marketing initiatives include the recent South African Tourism Speed Marketing Sessions at various venues in the region; as well as participating in Africa’s Travel Indaba and Meetings Africa. USCT also hosts international media and trade as a way to further create exposure and promote the region.
Mangcu said that, while having world-class sites and facilities is a massive drawcard, USCT had to ensure that visitors are being offered international-standard service to match these attractions: “Our view is that USCT needs to ensure the South Coast is providing the best possible service, or we risk losing repeat visitors and word-of-mouth marketing. We have organised for accommodation facilities to be assessed by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa, while also providing skills’ training and development to local SMMEs, tour guides and facilitators.”
One of the major USCT route development projects currently underway is the creation of the KwaNzimakwe Multi-Trails which forms part of the Great Drives Out initiative. This tourist feature, set to be launched next month, gives sightseers the opportunity to hire a local tour guide for a rugged 4×4 adventure in the beautiful South Coast hinterland. They will also get to meet local community members and experience traditional food and practices, as well as visiting the nearby KwaXolo Caves and its century-old San paintings.
In addition to this, South Coast has a full programme of activities taking place over the next few weeks. Some of these include:
• The South Coast Fever Mountain Biking Series, which gives cyclists and trail runners the chance to enjoy four diverse terrains – desert, beach, forest and game reserve – will conclude with the Lake Eland Classic on Sunday, 22 September.
• The annual Matat2Pont enduro motorbike ride will run from Friday, 20 to Sunday, 22 September.
• The first-ever Spring Fling with holiday activities including beach sports, family-fun competitions and lots of exciting prizes.
• The not-to-be-missed South Coast Carnival from 27 to 29 September.
For more information on these and other events, visit:
Facebook: South Coast Tourism
Follow the handle: #kznsouthcoast