Roads Agency Lim­popo Key to Un­lock­ing Lim­popo Tourism Po­ten­tial

Mmileng - - Contents -

No­ma­sonto ‘Sonto’ Ndlovu, the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of Lim­popo Tourism Agency (LTA) – a pub­lic en­tity man­dated by Lim­popo Pro­vin­cial Gov­ern­ment to pro­mote, fos­ter and de­velop tourism to and within the Lim­popo Prov­ince - is im­pressed by the in­vest­ment the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, through Roads Agency Lim­popo (RAL), is mak­ing to­wards im­prov­ing road in­fra­struc­ture in the prov­ince.

Ms Ndlovu says such in­vest­ment will go a long way to im­prove tourism in Lim­popo. RAL, an agency of Lim­popo Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works, Roads and In­fra­struc­ture and LTA, an agency of Lim­popo Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, En­vi­ron­ment and Tourism are two of the prov­ince’s five pub­lic en­ti­ties and are thus nat­u­ral stake­hold­ers.

“We have the sup­port of RAL, they un­der­stand that by help­ing us im­prove our roads to boost tourism, we will ul­ti­mately im­prove the econ­omy of the prov­ince.”

She be­lieves there will be no tourism with­out good roads. The crit­i­cal role that road in­fra­struc­ture plays in sec­tors of the pro­vin­cial econ­omy such as tourism, agri­cul­ture, trade and com­merce were also high­lighted in the 2018 Lim­popo State of the Prov­ince Ad­dress (SOPA) ear­lier this year.

De­liv­er­ing the SOPA, the Hon­ourable Premier of Lim­popo Chupu Stan­ley Matha­batha also stressed the im­por­tance of tourism to the pro­vin­cial econ­omy.

“The tourism sec­tor con­tin­ues to play a sig­nif­i­cant role in the growth and de­vel­op­ment of our pro­vin­cial econ­omy. Lim­popo re­mains a lead­ing prov­ince in the coun­try when it comes to do­mes­tic tourism, in­creas­ing from 5.6 mil­lion in 2015 to 8.3 mil­lion in 2016. This rep­re­sents a mas­sive in­crease of 2.7 mil­lion.”

These fig­ures are de­rived from Sta­tis­tics South Africa’s 2016 Do­mes­tic Tourism Sur­vey, which ranked

Lim­popo as the most pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for overnight trav­ellers or Vis­it­ing Friends and Rel­a­tives (VFR) tourism, that in­cludes ac­tiv­i­ties such as at­tend­ing funer­als, shop­ping and leisure. Lim­popo is also only sec­ond to Gaut­eng as the top des­ti­na­tion for day trav­ellers, for nearly sim­i­lar ac­tiv­i­ties.

Be­sides do­mes­tic trav­ellers from neigh­bour­ing prov­inces such Mpumalanga, Gaut­eng and the North West, Lim­popo gets most of the tourists from the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) as most vis­i­tors come through Lim­popo from Botswana, Zim­babwe and Mozam­bique.

“SADC con­sumers need the road net­work to work per­fectly be­cause half of the time they come by road and not by air, and these tourists have many ac­tiv­i­ties to do in the prov­ince,” says Ms Ndlovu.

The N1 (border of Gaut­eng to Polok­wane) and R101 (Ham­man­skraal to Polok­wane) – the al­ter­na­tive route to N1 - are some of the busiest roads in Lim­popo and South Africa around Easter and Xmas.

There is noth­ing that un­der­pins the co­or­di­na­tion of the road net­work that links or feeds between na­tional (SANRAL), pro­vin­cial (RAL) and lo­cal gov­ern­ment (mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties) roads than tourism.

“Is­sues of ac­cess to the tourism zones are crit­i­cal be­cause when a tourist has fi­nally made it to their des­ti­na­tion, they still want to know how to get from Point A to Point B,” says Ms Ndlovu, re­cently ap­pointed to her po­si­tion.

Ms Ndlovu says with­out a good road net­work, you can­not do tourism at all be­cause we can­not sell what this prov­ince has to of­fer if the road net­work is in­ad­e­quate.

Tourism con­trib­utes 3% to the pro­vin­cial Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct (GDP).

The econ­omy of Lim­popo Prov­ince strives on three sec­tors, namely min­ing, agri­cul­ture and tourism – the top con­trib­u­tors to the pro­vin­cial GDP. And all these sec­tors are re­liant on good road in­fra­struc­ture for growth.

Tourism is re­garded in the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan (NDP) 2030 as one of the most im­por­tant po­ten­tial drivers of eco­nomic growth and job cre­ation in the coun­try. The Lim­popo De­vel­op­ment (LDP) Plan 2020, a pro­vin­cial ver­sion of the NDP, also recog­nises the tourism in­dus­try as key to grow­ing an in­clu­sive econ­omy for the prov­ince. In Lim­popo, tourism takes the place of man­u­fac­tur­ing which na­tion­ally is in top three of the con­trib­u­tors to GDP.

Roads Agency Lim­popo is an im­por­tant player in the pro­vin­cial eco­nomic space.

Since 2015, the Agency has in­ten­si­fied the use of road in­fra­struc­ture as a ve­hi­cle for driv­ing lo­cal econ­omy, par­tic­u­larly vil­lage econ­omy, through the de­vel­op­ment of Small Medium and Mi­cro En­ter­prises (SMMEs) and cre­ation of jobs in project ar­eas.

But the im­pact of roads to the econ­omy and the tourism sec­tor long af­ter the road project is com­pleted, and the on­go­ing main­te­nance thereof, can­not be un­der­es­ti­mated.

Also, in 2015, RAL adopted a Strate­gic Part­ner­ship Ap­proach where it ap­proaches pri­vate sec­tor part­ners to as­sist in co-fund­ing of road up­grades and main­te­nance. R482 mil­lion has been raised in this re­gard. The main source of these funds has been the min­ing in­dus­try, but the Agency also seeks greater par­tic­i­pa­tion from the agri­cul­tural sec­tor, where ZZ2 has con­trib­uted to­wards a road up­grade, and the tourism sec­tor.

Ms Ndlovu says that the only way for tourism to ad­vance in the prov­ince was through their part­ner­ship with RAL. RAL it­self pri­ori­tises eco­nom­i­cally strate­gic roads through these part­ner­ships.

“Suc­cess­ful des­ti­na­tions in the world are those that you can self-drive, where you do not need an op­er­a­tor to drive you around in their van.”

“RAL is part of the fam­ily be­cause they can make us look good.

They can change a lot of things in terms of tourist ex­pe­ri­ences,” she says.

Ms Ndlovu also be­lieves that through fo­cused dis­cus­sions between pro­vin­cial and lo­cal gov­ern­ments they can come up with an ac­tion plan to­wards fix­ing roads with an in­ten­tion of boost­ing tourism, even in the ru­ral ar­eas.

Talk­ing of roads that lead to tourist at­trac­tions, Ms Ndlovu ex­pressed her sat­is­fac­tion about the RALup­graded road in Mutale go­ing to­wards Sagole Big Tree, in Sagole vil­lage between Tshipise and Pa­furi near Tho­hoyan­dou. Sagole Big Tree is the big­gest baobab tree in the world.

“The Big Tree is an iconic site. I was told that for a while that road was not in a good con­di­tion. But it has since been up­graded and now the big tree is ac­ces­si­ble. There is now the Big Tree Lodge next to it and in­vestors are start­ing to take in­ter­est in that area,” she said.

This has given a fresh fil­lip to tourism around the African Baobab trees. In South Africa the trees are found in Lim­popo prov­ince, and par­tic­u­larly the Ma­pun­gubwe Na­tional Park which also en­com­passes the Ma­pun­gubwe Cul­tural Land­scape which was de­clared a United Na­tions Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Or­ga­ni­za­tion (UN­ESCO) World Her­itage Site in 2003.

“Ma­pun­gubwe for in­stance, is a crit­i­cal tourism des­ti­na­tion for us, and if we are to pri­ori­tise it and get the finest roads there - be­cause it is a world her­itage site - it can be an iconic des­ti­na­tion for us in the prov­ince.”

Lim­popo do­mes­tic tourism sta­tis­tics are ex­pected to be boosted fur­ther by ‘sport tourism’, which is an el­e­ment of leisure travel. The prov­ince now has the high­est num­ber of rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the Premier Soc­cer League (PSL) for the first time at three in Baroka FC, Black Leop­ards and Polok­wane City, across two district mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. Pop­u­lar foot­ball clubs such as Kaizer Chiefs, Or­lando Pi­rates and Mamelodi Sun­downs are sure to visit the prov­ince at least nine times between them from the 2018/19 sea­son. Lim­popo also has the sec­ond-joint high­est num­ber in the 16-club PSL with Kwa-Zulu Natal, af­ter his­tor­i­cally and eco­nom­i­cally dom­i­nant Gaut­eng.

A bread and break­fast, lodge or sta­dium that is sur­rounded by mu­nic­i­pal roads, needs a com­bi­na­tion of mainly RAL-main­tained roads, and at times SANRAL main­tained roads, to lead peo­ple to their des­ti­na­tion.

The RAL road net­work cur­rently sits at 19 997 kilo­me­tres.

Tour de Lim­popo, a prop­erty of LTA that re­lies heav­ily on scenic routes, is the lat­est event added to the Lim­popo sport­ing cal­en­dar. The LTA hosted the in­au­gu­ral four-stage cy­cling race in part­ner­ship with Cy­cling South Africa (CSA), from 23-26 April 2018, to show­case Lim­popo’s roads and cul­tural di­ver­sity, and the prov­ince as “a premier Ad­ven­ture Tourism” des­ti­na­tion. The Polok­wane to Tza­neen to Polok­wane race used a com­bi­na­tion of na­tional, Roads Agency Lim­popo and mu­nic­i­pal roads.

“CSA did the in­spec­tion of the roads be­fore the race and gave them the thumbs up. It was per­fect for the in­ter­na­tional event,” says Ms Ndlovu, an en­dorse­ment to the qual­ity of Lim­popo roads.

Tour de Lim­popo is the first in­ter­na­tional road cy­cling stage race to be hosted in Lim­popo. “The Tour de Lim­popo will give us the op­por­tu­nity to show­case the beauty of Ma­goe­baskloof all the way to Tza­neen, in­clud­ing Mo­ria (Zion City), Mod­jad­jiskloof, the Sun­land Baobab, Deben­geni Falls, Mod­jadji Royal Kraal and Mod­jadji Cy­cad For­est,” said Ms Ndlovu, as quoted dur­ing the launch in Fe­bru­ary 2018.

On the cul­tural front, Marula Fes­ti­val in Pha­l­aborwa is an­other event that at­tracts as much as 20 000 peo­ple who mainly use RAL roads to the venue.

Reli­gious tourism is an­other form of tourism ben­e­fit­ing from qual­ity roads. RAL na­tional coun­ter­parts, SANRAL re­cently built an in­ter­sec­tion around R71 to im­prove traf­fic flow to Mo­ria. Mo­ria or Zion City is the head­quar­ters of Zion Chris­tian Church (ZCC), the big­gest church in South­ern Africa by mem­bers, with the pil­grim­age around Easter lit­er­ally stop­ping traf­fic. Plans are also afoot to build an­other by­pass to al­le­vi­ate traf­fic con­ges­tion into the St En­ge­nas Zion Chris­tian Church (the Dove).

The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment and RAL made a com­mit­ment to con­tinue with the pro­gramme of im­prov­ing and ex­pand­ing the pro­vin­cial road net­work in­fra­struc­ture that can only help in un­lock­ing Lim­popo tourism po­ten­tial.


Im­proved road in­fra­struc­ture has boosted tourism around the Sagole Big Tree. Roads Agency Lim­popo’s suc­cess­ful Strate­gic Part­ner­ship Ap­proach with the min­ing, agri­cul­tural and tourism sec­tors seek to speed up de­liv­ery of eco­nom­i­cally strate­gic roads in Lim­popo Prov­ince.

The eco­nomic trickle-down ef­fect of qual­ity roads and in­creased tourism num­bers in Lim­popo Prov­ince means small busi­ness own­ers and ven­dors are also ben­e­fit­ting.

No­ma­sonto Ndlovu, the CEO of Lim­popo Tourism Agency, says qual­ity roads are a cat­a­lyst to a healthy tourism in­dus­try in the prov­ince.

Tour de Lim­popo is the lat­est event to be added to the Lim­popo sport cal­en­dar. The four-stage cy­cling race passed in­ter­na­tional grade thanks to the qual­ity of Lim­popo roads.

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