By PRUDENCE MINI
A government delegation of tourism and small business development heavyweights arrived in Makhanda on Tuesday 23 March to help township tourism attract more travellers in search of unique and authentic tourism experiences.
Tourism Deputy Minister Fish Mahlalela, Small Business Deputy Minister Nokuzola Capa and South Africa Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona met up with the women of the Kwam eMakana Project at the Monument for a launch of the Basic Quality Verification programme.
Kwam eMakana is a poverty relief organisation of homestays established by a former Eastern Cape Province Nosima Balindlela. Its members were encouraged to take part in the programme that is geared to help formalise and strengthen their businesses.
“The tourism sector globally has regressed by 30 years. Covid-19, in one year, has taken away 30 years. So we are back in 1991,” Ntshona said in his opening remarks. “Many of the tourism businesses are struggling so we must work to get them bigger and better.”
“This launch signifies how we as an industry are working toward an inclusive recovery,” said Ntshona. He said the programme aimed to ensure accommodation products that do not meet existing grading requirements can now attract more tourists and actively participate in the tourism sector and its economy.
Mahlalela said homestays that took up the quality grading schemes within the Programme would get access to expert advice, training and ongoing support from the Tourism Quality Assessors. “Quality Assessors will assess your business, expose you to different markets and advise you on how to make the most of your business.
“We can’t expose you to the market if you do not have the necessary quality assurance,” he added.
Mahlalela mentioned the following benefits for programme participants:
∙ Improves your reputation as a credible business.
∙ Assures your customers that you can provide a quality experience.
∙ Increases repeat visits.
∙ Gives you a competitive advantage because you are accredited.
∙ Government departments will now be able to consider using your services, as you are graded and can provide quality assurance.
Makana Municipality’s Tourism Portfolio Chairperson Mthuthuzeli Matyumza said the Programme’s community approach to promoting township economy was encouraging, as it allowed for job creation. Further, the funds generated by the local tourism products would also support the local economy, he said.
According to Ntshona, the Eastern Cape was chosen to be a pilot project for the Basic Quality Verification programme. Currently, 95 properties in the Province have registered in the programme and 66 assessments have been conducted.
This launch forms part of a two-day programme which took place in Makhanda and East London respectively.
LET’S HEAR FROM A BASIC QUALITY VERIFIER
The Basic Quality Verification programme further promotes inclusive economic growth in the tourism sector by utilising the skills of unemployed tourism graduates who are trained as evaluators in the areas where they live.
The programme to date has trained 15 graduates. One of the graduates, Odwa Gxoyiya, said she started her training in November. “What we were told every day is that we need to look at the cleanliness of the homestays.
“From November until now, I have verified 80 homestays in rural Peddie. It was not easy.” Gxoyiya added that one of the challenges she experienced was to translate the required information into isiXhosa and break down the jargon for the homestay owners.
“I feel honoured to be part of this programme and for giving us this opportunity to show the world that as a youth we can do it. And we are doing it,” Gxoyiya said.
“I am giving back to the community that knows nothing of tourism about how to operate a homestay. I am so happy and blessed because I meet people who want to learn”.
KNOW YOUR REGION!
At the Basic Quality Verification programme launch, Acting Municipal Manager of Sarah Baartman District Municipality Unathi Daniels provided a run-down of the District. It’s dubbed The Seven Wonders of our World because of the beautiful locations of Addo, Baviaans, Makhanda, Jeffrey’s Bay, Karoo, Tsitsikamma, and the Sunshine Coast that converge into an impressive list of tourist attractions and activities.
Did you know?
The Sarah Baartman District is the only district in the country to have a local tourism agency in each region.
Sarah Baartman District Tourism profile:
∙ The region has a population of 527 062
∙ 7 local Municipalities
∙ 27 minor towns
∙ 28 villages
Sarah Baartman Tourism Products:
405 tourism products
100 tourism products
57 cultural activities
17 other activities
Tourists that come into the region are mainly from the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Germany and other European countries.
Sarah Baartman District Municipality reignited tourism in the Province by installing six billboards; and three regional airports – Gqeberha, East London and Bloemfontein.
Here are some of their past campaigns:
Sarah Baartman District Municipality employees got to experience the region from visiting a strawberry farm, private game reserve to farms. They were tasked to post their experience on social media.
Another summer campaign was to encourage the community to become tourists in their own backyards and explore the whole Sarah Baartman Region, from beach to the bush.
- Prudence Mini is the Marketing and Communications Officer for Makana Tourism.