Daily Dispatch

E Cape receives R3m boost

- By VUVU VENA

TOURISM in the Eastern Cape’s rural and peri-urban areas has received a R3-million boost from three provincial tourism and developmen­t organisati­ons.

Tourism Enterprise Partnershi­p (TEP), the Eastern Cape Developmen­t Corporatio­n (ECDC) and Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA) signed a memorandum of understand­ing at the Tourism Indaba in Durban at the weekend.

According to the memorandum, ECPTA and ECDC will contribute R200 000 each, and TEP will contribute the balance of more than R2.5-million.

The project, entitled Transforma­tion through Small Tourism Enterprise Developmen­t, aims to ensure rural and peri-urban enterprise­s benefit from tourism growth and developmen­t in the country.

“The specific objective is to ensure 575 small tourism businesses benefit from training in tourism awareness, customer service, toolkits, business skills, and mentorship,” the memorandum stated.

The project is anticipate­d to run over the next 12 months, from May 1 this year.

The outcomes of the project will also include small tourism businesses gaining access to new markets and acquiring the knowledge and resources.

Akhona Maqwazima, TEP’S provincial manager, said the organisati­on also invested R900 000 to ensure small medium and micro enterprise­s (SMMES) in the tourism sector were able to attend the indaba.

Each province was assisted R100 000.

“We also assisted the SMMES who came on their own, whether it was with transport, or brochures and the likes,” he said.

Maqwazima said the memorandum of understand­ing was a way of seeing how the three organisati­ons could work together to support sector SMMES in the province.

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One of the projects the organisati­on already has running is the Hidden Treasures initiative, where 22 SMMES from the Eastern Cape are currently benefiting.

The initiative highlights SMMES in various parts of South Africa as quality destinatio­ns for local and internatio­nal tourists.

Maqwazima said the aim is to ensure these SMMES get access to the market.

He said there was a new curiosity among tourists to find out more about South Africans, and it was a space SMMES in township and rural areas could tap into by ensuring their products are accessible and cater for a variety of people.

Other elements TEP looks into includes how the SMMES they are working with are giving back to their regions and sustaining the lives of people in that area.

This in turn, Maqwazima believes, will begin to change perception­s of these areas and attract more visitors. — vuyiswav@dispatch.co.za

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