The Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) has released its annual report for the financial year ending 31 March 2010, and has been pleased to announce that it has received an unqualified audit yet again. The agency’s legislative mandate is to partner with provincial government in order to grow the tourism economy in Mpumalanga, South Africa’s easternmost province and “the place where the sun rises”.
“Although we are constrained by a very limited operating budget for the agency itself, with government and private sector funding, we have nevertheless achieved a great deal over the past twelve months,” says Chief Executive, Charles Ndabeni. “Building on foundation projects started in previous years, we completed a major infrastructure upgrade in the run-up to the 2010 Fifa World Cup, launched an innovative tourism package, and undertook a number of on-going legacy projects that will add incredible value to Mpumalanga’s tourism capital.”
Projects completed prior to the World Cup include an R8.5 million Visitor Information Centre, a R9 million upgrade at the Manyeleti Game Reserve, the successful implementation of the Endumbeni project to grade shebeen and tour products offered in Kanyamazane township, and the equally successful positioning of Ingwenyama Lodge as a base for the Chilean national team. The agency also launched its “Three Countries, Three Cities, One Day” tourism route, a new regional initiative aimed at promoting Mpumalanga together with attractions in nearby Swaziland and Mozambique, and began a number of long-term initiatives that will not only enrich the tourism offering in this unique area, but contribute to its socio-economic development.
“On the development front, MTPA concluded four land claim agreements during the year and also signed co-management agreements with the Mdala Nature Reserve, the SS Skosana Nature Reserve, the Manyeleti Nature Reserve and the Mabusa Game Reserve,” says Ndabeni. Of these, the R400 million eco-tourism agreement with the Manyeleti Conservation Trust is perhaps one of the most exciting. In terms of this agreement, and with the active involvement of the private sector, the tourism infrastructure in the reserve will be significantly developed with the intention of actively marketing it as one of the province’s premier “Big Five” attractions.
The development plan for the 23 000-hectare reserve is based on the successful development plan implemented at the Madikwe Game Reserve in North West. As with Madikwe, this will
focus on infrastructure development, training and skills transfer, community development, marketing, sustainability and profitability. The objective is to position Manyeleti as a Big Five eco-tourism destination, and to target it at the high-end leisure tourism market both locally and internationally. And, apart from improving the province’s long-term revenue stream from tourism, the initiative will create approximately 600 new jobs over the next two years.
“Our biggest challenge, unfortunately, is lack of budget for marketing,” says Ndabeni, who is mindful of how important marketing and communications spend is in the tourism market.
At present, the MTPA’s total budget is made up mainly from grant funding, which accounts for 90% of revenue, while the balance of the budget is generated by the agency itself. The single largest line item is the cost of salaries, which accounts for 58% of the Agency’s spend. Marketing and conservation account for another 17% and 14% respectively, and training and infrastructure accounts for the balance.
Over the next five years, the MTPA aims to increase own revenue substantially through the implementation of its Revenue Generation Strategy, Tourism Events Strategy and Commercialisation Strategy.
“Mpumalanga is a world class tourism destination,” says Ndabeni, “and it offers the tourist an incredible mix of unique offerings. By working with provincial government to improve infrastructure, and by using creative and memorable marketing initiatives, we aim to take even bolder steps in 2011 than we have over the past year to ensure that we continue to position the destination”.
For more information on the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency, visit www.mpumalanga.com.
Issued by Mpumalanga Tourism & Parks Agency
Kholofelo Nkambule Charles Ndabeni
Senior Manager: Corporate Relations Chief Executive Officer
Tel: +27 13 759 5309 / 00 or 083 579 2381