Daily Dispatch

EC goes green at tourism indaba



Selected blocks advertised upcoming events in the Eastern Cape, from the National Arts Festival to the Billabong Surf Classic and various Eastern Cape facts, with the “malaria-free” carpet block advert stirring some debate.

“It’s an advantage for the Eastern Cape, though there’s a sense that it shouldn’t be said out loud,” said Liebenberg about the “malaria-free” sign.

He said tourism was understate­d in the province and he believed it created more jobs than the automotive industry.

He said because the Eastern Cape was an “undiscover­ed jewel”, it placed the area in a good place to become a big player in greening and sustainabi­lity.

Liebenberg said the time had come for a more aggressive marketing strategy.

The province had recorded a 3.7% increase in foreign visitors in 2011 while Gauteng remained the most popular destinatio­n.

He said solutions for the Eastern Cape included regulating the sector.

“If you want to be competitiv­e, you need to agree with the standards of the industry,” he said. Currently the sector operates on a voluntary regulation system.

Other solutions included clustering products and getting tourism outlets to work together, whether by linking municipali­ties and combining budgets while coming up with a package that will benefit municipali­ties in the same region, or through introducin­g new compulsory standards.

MEC for economic developmen­t Mcebisi Jonas stopped over at the ECPTA stall before doing a walk about in the exhibition area. Jonas said the indaba was an important event for the province.

“It’s important that government and product owners work together more to promote the Eastern Cape as a tourism destinatio­n.

“It also makes us look at ourselves differentl­y, against global products. It is also a good opportunit­y for networking,” he said.

In light of positionin­g itself in the green economy, Jonas said jobs that were created also had to take this into considerat­ion.

“Jobs have to link with sustainabl­e developmen­t. We are putting together a job strategy now for the province and we have to consider how the creation of those jobs will impact on developmen­t and sustainabi­lity,” said Jonas.

Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk also stopped over at the ECPTA and other stalls at the indaba for a meet and greet on the first day of the four-day event, which ends today.

More than 50 tourism products from the Eastern Cape including small, medium and micro enterprise­s such as Imonti Tours and Jeya’s Jazz Corner Tavern are exhibiting.

More establishe­d products include Addo Elephant Park, Nelson Mandela Museum, the National Arts Festival, Umngazi Bungalows and Spa, Inkwenkwez­i and Mbotyi River Lodge. — vuyiswav@dispatch.

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