This year’s UNWTO theme, “Rural Development and Tourism” is aimed at fostering awareness about domestic travel among communities with a special focus on travel to rural areas, villages and small towns. The World Tourism Day also has an objective to promote the importance of tourism towards achieving the sustainable development goals through its social, cultural, political and economic values.
“Tourism Month provides us with an opportunity to showcase the various tourism offerings in the province and encourage our local communities to travel. During this period, a number of initiatives will be implemented aimed at creating awareness on the importance of domestic tourism in the economy”, said Mr Johannes Nobunga, Chief Executive Officer of the MTPA.
“Domestic tourism is key in ensuring that our local people discover the diverse offerings available in the province and the country, to exploit and benefit from them. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic created severe challenges for the tourism sector. It brought the sector to a complete shutdown from Level 5 lockdown until it was recently opened under Level 2 lockdown. The sector contributes greatly to job creation in the province. We therefore need to support the come back to life while the international travel is still not permitted. It is therefore important to ensure that as the sector continues to open for business and leisure travel, we continue with our marketing efforts to encourage locals to travel and further encourage product owners to offer affordable packages and new tourism products within a safe environment”, added Nobunga.
Tourism is estimated to be one of the biggest sectors in the economy. The province recorded a steady increase of foreign visitor arrivals to 1,7 million in 2019 as compared to 1,6 million in 2018. The domestic tourism in the province recorded a decrease of domestic tourism trips to 2,5 million in 2019 compared to 2,9 million in 2018.
The impact of COVID-19, which is bringing a new normal on tourism will continue to be experienced over a period of time and will require government and the tourism industry to work together and implement a recovery plan to revive the tourism sector in the province.
“With the recovery process underway and the leisure travel open, the focus during the month of September will be used to heighten our awareness campaigns to educate our local communities on the importance of tourism and adapt to the new ways of doing business in a safe environment”, commented Nobunga.
We have a series of activities lined up for the month of September to revive the sector and attract more visitors into the province and they include amongst others the following:
- Tourism SMME Webinar on 8 September
- Mpumalanga Parks Week from 14 – 18 September
- Tourism Awareness Day on 19 September
- Virtual Heal the Nation and Gospel Music Festival on 24 September
- Liberation Heritage Route Golf Day and Fundraising event on 26 September
- Open Day Experience (4X4 & Hiking Trails) on 3 October
We encourage you to discover Mpumalanga this September and support local tourism. Visit www.mpumalanga.com or follow us on our social media platforms for affordable packages.
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