Cape Town – After two financial years filled with promises of development on Robben Island, the National Department of Tourism (NDT) has finally taken steps in getting the ball rolling.
The NDT has issued an R10m destination development grant for the island, aimed at enhancing the visitor experience through supporting identified and planned components.
Trevor Bloem, NDT spokesperson, told Traveller24 the funding is aimed at enhancing the visitor experience through supporting identified and planned destination development components.
“While the current support focus is on capacity development for tourist guides, digitisation of heritage information and archives, improving visitor information services, increasing existing and introducing additional food and beverage facilities, and a craft centre, the department is also exploring ways in which more South Africans can gain access to, and experience attractions like Robben Island through initiatives such as open days,” Bloem says.
The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.
In implementing the grant to good use, Robben Island World Heritage Site will focus on the following core purposes:
– Implementation of an integrated management approach and tools for the site
– Enhancement of universal access
– Improved visitor experience through effective visitor management
– Improved interpretation and public programming
– Review and implementation of policies for the management of the site
– Ensuring the significance of the site through sound conservation management strategies
– Providing an opportunity for sustainable economic empowerment
These improvements form part of SA Tourism’s R100 million investment in domestic tourism, aimed at getting locals to travel more.
SA Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom in his annual Tourism budget speech in May this year said the NDT will make a concerted effort to Go Green in 2016.
The same was said during the 2014/2015 Tourism Budget speech. But this most recent NDT development grand to Robben Island seems to be a concrete step in the actual implementation of the goal.
Speaking at the launch of Tourism Month in Limpopo on 16 August, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom said R100 million had been invested in growing the tourism sector in the country.
“With this investment we are committed to ensuring that the wonders we boast of, and the unique heritage we have been endowed with, are shared by more and more South Africans,” he said.
Everyone can be an ambassador
Hanekom said it was important that all South Africans became ambassadors of their own country. They could start by travelling within the country to discover, learn, and fall in love with all its beauty and diversity.
“As more of our people discover more about our country, they will feel a sense of pride and belonging.
“There is nothing like direct contact and interaction between people to break through artificial social barriers and allow us to share the things we all have in common,” he said.
Employment and growth
In 2014, tourism accounted for close to 10% of all employed people in South Africa.
Domestic trips increased by 11% in the year to reach 28 million, and the revenue generated by domestic tourism alone in 2014 was R26.8-billion.
It’s all about access
Hanekom said for the country to reach its target of 18 million domestic tourists by 2020 – as set out in the National Tourism Sector Strategy – it would have to work harder to make tourism more affordable and more accessible to all South Africans.
“We are therefore very keen to work with the trade to make travel a reality for millions of South Africans,” he said.
“All members of the trade are encouraged to upload their value-for-money deals on to the Sho’t Left website and to provide a variety of packages and options to suit all budgets.”
World Tourism Day
This year, World Tourism Day falls on 27 September, and the theme is “A billion tourists, a billion opportunities”.
It provides a platform to examine how communities around the world work to grow tourism through unearthing new opportunities. World Tourism Day in South Africa will be celebrated in Limpopo.
The province is home to world-class travel attractions such as the Mapungubwe World Heritage Site and the Kruger National Park.