The Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) together with Bushbuckridge Local Municipality and the Bushbuckridge Local Tourism Organisation (LTO) launched the Bushbuckridge Marula Cultural Route on 22 November 2018.
The launch was aimed at showcasing the various tourism offerings on the route and further encourage participation of local communities in the area towards tourism development.
The area of Bushbuckridge is rich in natural and cultural activities and there is a need to ensure that local communities that own tourism businesses and those who do not own any participate and benefit in the tourism sector. There are many communities surrounding the Kruger National Park and have a potential to showcase the cultural activities in the area as well as developing their own accommodation establishments by offering home stay experiences to local and international tourists.
The first phase of the route includes villages like Justicia, Huntington and Lilydale, which are closely located on the borders of Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands. The international tourists that visit these reserves always have interest in visiting the local villages to experience culture and rural life.
The aim of the project is to create opportunities and access to the market as these are key challenges facing Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) especially business owners in rural areas such as travel, tours, accommodation and related businesses. Government has prioritised the growth and development of SMMEs, as they have been identified as key drivers of economic growth and development. There is therefore a need to intensify support to enhance sustainable SMME development.
The purpose of the Marula Cultural Route is to formalize the offerings available in these areas for ease of making affordable and interesting packages by tour operators. The route will focus on communities close to Kruger National Park (KNP) such as Kruger Gate, Newington Gate and Shaw’s Gate. Villages that are key for this first phase are Justicia, Huntington and Lillydale.
The project will expand further to the nearby game reserves as they have an influx of tourists that pass through to KNP without any revenue for Bushbuckridge people.