Eastern Cape - your adventure awaits

AUGUST 29, 2016

As a modern-day engine of economic growth and one of the largest sectors globally, tourism contributes immensely to the economic development of South Africa. The sector supports one in every 12 jobs within the country and according Statistics South Africa 9.5 million tourist arrivals were recorded in the country for 2014, an increase of 6.6% over previous years and compared to other destinations in Africa, South Africa is the 3rd most visited country, after Morocco and Egypt.

Every September the country thus celebrates Tourism Month as well as World Tourism Day with the rest of the world on September 27th for a heightened focus on the importance of this sector for the county’s economy. What makes the month of September even more special for the country are the heritage celebrations also taking place during the same period, culminating to National Heritage Day celebrated on the 24th of September.    

Heritage and tourism have a seamless link as they encompass elements of culture, history and natural assets of a destination that communities value and steward for future generations.

Tourism Month is also aimed at encouraging ordinary South Africans to embark on leisure tours, while educating them about many tourists’ adventures in the province at the same time, thus increase the number of domestic holiday trips and tourism spend in the Eastern Cape.  This in turn will contribute to the country’s economy and provide much needed employment. 

The Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom officially launch tourism month in Bloemfontein on August 25th under the theme “Tourism for All – promoting Universal Accessibility”.

The Eastern Cape through the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA), an entity tasked with developing the Eastern Cape through responsible tourism and conservation is heeding this call through initiatives that showcase the province as a unique, authentic and worthwhile destination that is accessible to all. 

“Reality demonstrates that in many developing countries, where basic needs have not yet been guaranteed, the right to tourism appears to be something very distant. To speak of the subject may even seem frivolous, even though tourism can be a resource in the battle against poverty.

"It then becomes necessary to promote a “tourism for all” notion that is ethical and sustainable; physically, economically and socially accessible; and one that avoids all forms of discrimination through the collaboration of government, entrepreneurs, consumers, as well as associations involved in the industry,” notes ECPTA’s Chief Executive Officer, Vuyani Dayimani.

The entity is planning numerous initiatives for this purpose including: easily accessible product deals and discounts that make it affordable to go and explore the province, heritage awareness school campaigns targeted at the youth of provinces, welcome campaigns at Eastern Cape gateways created to make locals aware of the importance of provinces working together to grow tourism as well as numerous events within regions like Mthatha and Eastern Cape - Kwazulu Natal boarder that look to promote interprovincial tourism, Social media competitions and local campaigns highlighting the importance of domestic tourism for economic growth and media tours aimed at raising the profile of the province and its hidden gems, such as:  

  • the birth and final resting place of the late great Nelson Mandela
  • 800 km’s of pristine coastline encompassing warm and welcoming waters of the Indian ocean
  • world heritage site - the Baviaanskloof, meaning valley of the baboons
  • 9 tourism regions and
  • the big 7 -  lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo, southern right whales and great white sharks

ECPTA will formally launch tourism month in the Eastern Cape in partnerships with district municipalities that include OR Tambo, Joe Gqabi and Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism.  Some of the fun, informative, educational and interesting events that consumers will be treated to in the course of September and beyond include: schools competitions, heritage celebrations, holiday giveaway competitions for ordinary folks to travel around the province and much more.   

The activities will be kicked off and tabled at regional launches; these launches will take place in the last week of August paving way for the start of Tourism Month and its activities that will run throughout September.   

The launch programme is as follows: 

  • Eastern region of the province that covers the Joe Gqabi and Chris Hani District Municipalities) launch on the 30th of August at the Bonkolo Dam in Queenstown. 
  • Western region of the province which covers the Nelson Mandela Bay and Sara Baartman Distract Municipality will launch on 01 September 2016  at the Athenaeum Theater in Port Elizabeth.

Further details on Tourism Month celebrations in the Eastern Cape, plus package deals showcasing the allure of the province, from its scenic beauty, magnificent outdoors, sunny climate, cultural diversity and heritage have been created in partnership with travel trade and are now available on www.visiteasterncape.co.za.