South Africans urged to tour the country

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Eric Kholwane

Source: SABC News – South Africans urged to tour the country:Saturday 9 September 2017

Individuals and establishments excelling in the tourism sector were honoured and awarded in Mpumalanga over the weekend during the provincial Lilizela Tourism Awards.

It was a night of honour and glamour when the Mpumalanga tourism industry celebrated its top business owners and service providers.

These role players in the industry are to represent the province in the national stage.

The individuals competed in a number of categories which included Best hotels, self-catering, lodges, rangers, caravan camping.

However, according MEC of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Eric Kholwane more programmes are needed to encourage local people to tour the country.

According to Kholwane the tourism industry, mining and agriculture are the backbone of the province’s economy which needs to be fully exploited.

Kholwane has attributed the dwindling number of local tourists to a number of factors.

“I think that probably the packages which we currently prepare for tourists are not suitable for our local guys, but we must also take it into consideration that the economy throughout the world was not well, we think that also has an effect but we will be engaging the local tourism guys so that we can see that we can’t have domestic orientated packages.”

According to Kholwane the province is currently working on a number of projects to boost tourism.

The programmes include the upgrading of the Blyde River Canyon, Three Rondavels and other tourists’ attractions around the tourist town of Graskop.

Meanwhile those who have triumphed believe they will bring awards from the national stage.

Some of them scooped more than one awards.

Meanwhile, South African Tourism says the province has this year registered a record high number of entries since its inception five years ago.

According to Darryl Erasmus from South African Tourism, over one thousand six hundred entries were received.

Erasmus says they are working with the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) for the grading of the entries.

“Entries obviously opened for all products  in accommodation sector is specific focus on products and have to be graded using the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa 12345 star grading, we obviously have other categories so there is a number of different kinds of awards.”

Erasmus says part of the scoring for the entries comes from the online guest views and also the judges’ deliberation.

Tourism products and services who win benefit from the marketing support given to them by South African Tourism.

This year’s national competition will be held on the 29 October.