1. Programme Director, it is my utmost honour and pleasure, to address this year’s Provincial Tourism Awareness Day, under the theme: “Rethink Tourism”.


  1. Through this day, we want to conscientise the residents of Mpumalanga about the significance of tourism in growing the Province’s economy, and its contribution to job creation. The Tourism Awareness Day, thus, essentially calls on people to recognise the role of tourism in changing people’s lives.


  1. The celebration of the Provincial Tourism Awareness Day also paves the way for the country’s celebration of World Tourism Day on 27 September, which seeks to call for a shift towards tourism being recognised as a crucial pillar of development.


  1. Celebrated under the auspices of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) annually, this year’s World Tourism Day calls on the nations of the world to rethink how they do tourism, to contribute towards a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient sector.


  1. In South Africa, we have declared September as the Tourism Month, with the aim of promoting domestic tourism by encouraging local people to tour and explore their country, and to further celebrate, reflect and commemorate the milestones in relation to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals; that is, decent work and economic growth.
  2. Programme Director; the relevance of tourism has never been clear, and the time is now to seize this opportunity to Rethink how we do tourism, especially after the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has made us to realise that there’s much need now, to transform the tourism industry, as the industry is slowly but surely recovering from the negative impact of the pandemic.


  1. We launched the Tourism Month in our Province on the 5th of September 2022 at KaNyamazane and detailed what we plan to do throughout the month, to promote domestic tourism. This is because of the realisation that South Africans do not travel nor explore their own country.


  1. The decision to celebrate tourism during September and World Tourism Day on the 27th of September is based on the UNWTO’s believe that the day (World Tourism Day) comes at the end of the high tourist season in the northern hemisphere, and the start of the tourist season in the southern hemisphere, when tourism is of contemporary interest to many people worldwide, particularly travellers and those working in the tourism sector.


  1. During this season, we must, therefore, celebrate and create awareness on the enormous contribution that the tourism industry makes to the provincial and national economic growth, including on job creation.


  1. Through the theme: “Rethink Tourism”, as adopted by the UNWTO, we aim to raise awareness on the significance of switching to the tourism industry as a sector with million opportunities of job creation.


  1. When we Rethink Tourism, it requires us to restructure our business models so that they put people first. This is because tourism has always worked for young people, women and for communities at large. As we Rethink Tourism, we must truly work with the people as well. We need new voices, new ideas, if we are to transform our sector and build a better tourism for all.


  1. Programme Director; through the Tourism Awareness Day, we aim to make our community understand what tourism is, and what opportunities and careers are available in this industry. We want to promote domestic tourism and encourage our people to visit and explore their country, especially our beautiful and serene Province of Mpumalanga – The Place of the Rising Sun.

  1. We have much to offer South Africans and tourists alike; our breath-taking views and scenic beauty is a confirmation that “A million new experiences are a Sho’t left away”. We may not have the sea and the beaches as Mpumalanga, but we are certain that South Africans and tourists alike, will feel closer to their creator, after exploring attractions such as God’s Window, the Three (3) Rondawels, Sudwala Caves, the world-renowned Kruger National Park, Wakkerstroom Wetlands, Graskop Gorge Lift, the Barberton Makhonjwa Mountain World Heritage Site, to mention but a few.


  1. In our quest to increase visitor experience, our people and tourists will soon experience the breath-taking Skywalk which is under construction. We also intend to make the much talked about Cable Car at the Three-Rondavels in the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, that will connect the area to the Swadini Dam, a reality very soon.


  1. Programme Director; during the recent Provincial Tourism Lekgotla, we collectively with the private sector, agreed to develop a new tourism product, to be known as Mpumalanga@360 Route, which will cover the three (3) districts of the Province in one. This new produce will include the Province’s Heritage and Liberation Routes (starting from Delmas, going around through to Ermelo, Mkhondo, down to Mbuzini, KaNyamazane), continuing to the areas around Graskop, Bushbuckridge, Mashishing, Waterval Boven, Botshabelo, amongst others. This new Route will be packaged and launched in due course.


  1. We are also planning to develop a social activity-based hotel with 440 beds, and there might even be a need for the issuing of a casino license or even re-directing the awarding of the fourth casino license to this site of tourism product development. This will ultimately see Graskop becoming the core town of tourism in the Province.
  2. It is also our intention, to develop four (4) towns as pure tourism towns; namely, Graskop in the Thaba Chweu Local Municipality, Hazyview and Barberton both in the City of Mbombela, and Emgwenya (formerly Waterval Boven) in the Emakhazeni Local Municipality. We anticipate that these envisaged tourism products will triple the current number of tourist arrivals in Mpumalanga, once completed.


  1. Programme Director; As part of our 2022 legacy projects, the Department commits to assist the tourism products that suffered from the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. And in this regard, we have, in partnership with the Chief Albert Luthuli Local Tourism Organisation, identified and earmarked eight (8) tourism accommodation products that will be graded to receive Star grading. We are currently in a process of appointing an independent quality assessor, who will start with the grading process soon.


  1. The identified tourism accommodation products are:


  • Balalaika Lodge in Elukwatini Extension 7 (owned by Mr Collins Mnisi);
  • Lwazi Guest House in Elukwatin (owned by Mrs Miriam Nhlapo);
  • Ebutsini Cultural Village in Ekulindeni (owned by the Ebutsini Cultural Village Cooperative);
  • Mount Lucasa Guest House in eManzana (owned by Mr & Mrs Thabede);
  • Real T Guest House in Dundonald (owned by Mr Thulani Ndwandwe);
  • Essence Guest House in Fernie Trust (owned by Mr Bheki Maseko);
  • Ekukhanyeni Guest House in Nhlazatshe Extension 7 (owned by Mr Edwin Mathapuna); and
  • Roadside Guest House in Nhlazatshe Extension 7 (owned by Mr & Mrs Jele).


  1. We have also identified six (6) tourism establishments (products) in the Province, working with the MTPA and the Local Tourism Organisations, that we will support by way of basic infrastructure upgrades, such as installation of gates, ablution facilities, Universal Access and improvement of the kitchen areas. Three (3) of them are in the Gert Sibande District, two (2) in the Nkangal District, and one (1) in the Ehlanzeni District. These establishments are the following:

  • Busy T Guest House (in Mooiplaas in the Chief Albert Luthuli Local Municipality); Real T Guest House (In Dundonald in the Chief Albert Luthuli Local Municipality) and McBest Guest House (in Ermelo in the Msukaligwa Local Municipality) – all in the Gert Sibande District;
  • Memento’s LifeStyle Guest House (in Kameel Rivier in the Dr JS Moroka Local Municipality); and Mabhuma Guest House (in Vlaklaagte No 1 in the Thembisile Hani Local Municipality) – all in the Nkangala District; and
  • Mzsingitana Tented Camp, Tours and Safaris (in Manyeleti in the Bushbuckridge Local Municipality).

  1. The upgrading of these tourism establishments will assist the businesses to improve the quality of service offered to the visitors, thereby positively promote Destination Mpumalanga.

  1. Programme Director; ours is to ensure that those who were previously at the periphery of the tourism value chain, benefit in real terms now.


  1. Next week on the 21st of September 2022, our Department, in partnership with the Department of Education, will host the first ever Mpumalanga Provincial Tourism Careers Expo at Barberton, under the theme: “Rethink Tourism: Career Opportunities Awaits”.


  1. The Expo seeks to inspire and uplift young people to think outside the box, and to pursue sustainable livelihoods in tourism through innovation, entrepreneurship and government-led programmes. In this regard, we have invited hundreds of learners and educators from across the Province, to a showcase of tourism careers and opportunities.


  1. Programme Director; it is time that we must Rethink Tourism; it is time that we must do things differently, so that we can grow our gold mine; our tourism industry which continues to be the goose that lays the golden egg for the economy of the Province.

  1. Happy Tourism Awareness Day to you all!

  1. Let’s Grow Mpumalanga Together through tourism!


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