JOINT MEDIA STATEMENT
Date:12 October 2018
KRUGER LOWVELD TOURISM AND MPUMALANGA TOURISM & PARKS AGENCY ADDRESS ISSUES FACING TOURISTS IN MPUMALANGA
A new forum has been created in Mpumalanga to improve communications and reactions relating to service delivery protests and to any other problems affecting visitors to the province.
While the recent disruptions seem largely to have come to an end, Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism (KLCBT) and Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) have jointly created a think tank of interested parties drawn from tourism, from security structures and from provincial, district and local government in order to deal effectively with any possible resurgence and to ensure that tourist safety is deemed to be paramount at all times. This partnership will also include Regional Tourism Organisations in the other parts of the province, being the Gert Sibande and Nkangala regions.
“It is KLCBT’s view that the problems facing our area have been somewhat exaggerated in terms of their impact on tourists,” says KLCBT President Oupa Pilane, “and that similar issues are faced in many towns and regions throughout the country. It is therefore the view of KLCBT and the members of our forum, that in addressing the situation in Mpumalanga, our aim should be for all our initiatives ultimately to be able to be rolled out nationally, and we shall be discussing this proposal with national bodies such as SATSA, TBCSA and SA Tourism, as well as with National Minister of Tourism Mr Derek Hanekom.
“We would similarly like to apply to our region any successful initiatives which have been adopted in other areas. Keeping tourists safe has to be our highest priority across South Africa, especially in the run-up to the coming elections next year, and there should be absolutely no reason for visitors to be unsettled or alarmed in the process.”
According to KLCBT and MTPA, Mpumalanga already has a strong network in place to keep visitors to the region informed and it is hoped that this can be improved upon even further by opening up more communication channels between stakeholders.
MTPA’s Head of Tourism Xolani Mthethwa further said that today’s tourists are not passive recipients of tourism services, they are active participants and they need to be empowered with information so that they can be assured that our country is a safe place to visit.
Areas to be addressed by the new forum include the following:
- The passing of accurate and un-sensationalised information to the media from one fully-informed central source
- Monitoring of social media to ensure that inaccurate and out-of-date information is corrected
- Prompt resolution of service delivery issues by efficient networking with forum partners in the municipalities and with the police
- The prevention of any impact on tourists of such demonstrations and disruptions by means of increasing the spread of information networks to ensure that tourists are kept informed and steered away from any problem areas
- Encouraging authorities to meet with communities and discuss their grievances and ensure that confrontations are avoided at all costs
- Stepping up the existing roadside anti-corruption initiative to ensure that tourists are not inconvenienced by corrupt traffic officials
- Deploying and training additional Tourism Safety Monitors in all the region’s tourism destinations to provide visitors with a warm welcome and up-to-date information
- Education initiatives in rural communities, to emphasise the value of tourism to the region as an employer and as a contributor to the provincial and national fiscus.
KLCBT in partnership with MTPA will also be pushing for a national tourism safety advice app, which would be available as a free download, both to domestic tourists and to international visitors on arrival in the country. The app would give up-to-date traffic information, details of recommended routes and procedures for dealing with tourism safety issues and would be associated with a national Tourism Safety Helpline.
“There is absolutely no reason for any visitor to this country to be alarmed or to feel unsafe at any time,” Mr Pilane concludes. “With our partners in our beautiful safe province of Mpumalanga, we intend to ensure that this remains the case and we very much hope that our initiatives will be rolled out nationally. We also hope that we can now draw a line under the somewhat alarmist media coverage that our region has recently received and get on with the business of what we do best: providing the warmest of possible welcomes to the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit us every year.”
Mpumalanga remains a safe place for all visitors. These joint efforts will ensure that tourists are kept abreast of key issues and will further ensure their safety when visiting the province.
Jointly Issued by
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MTPA Senior Manager Communications
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