According to Economic Development and Tourism MEC, Eric Kholwane, as he was addressing stakeholders within the Tourism sector at the Tourism Indaba in Durban he said, the time to recognise the role played by Mpumalanga province during the liberation struggle has arrived.
Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency in partnership with the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Recreation launched the Liberation Heritage Route over the weekend.
The aim is to highlight the role played by struggle icons during Apartheid and promote those sites that freedom fighters utilised as their hideouts.
The partnership is going all out to make sure that the Tourism industry gets all the necessary recognition, both domestically and international.
The Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency launched the Liberation Heritage Route.
The intention, to highlight the key freedom fighters who fought for justice and freedom from the previous regime.
Six towns were extensively involved in the anti-apartheid liberation struggle. Their struggles resulted in a peaceful transition to democracy in 1994.
The route includes Bethal, Daggakraal, Ermelo, Saul Mkhizeville (formerly Driefontein), Secunda and Volksrust. MTPA Chairperson, Thulani Nzima is excited about this initiative.
MTPA Chairperson Thulani Nzima says, “It is ideal as Mpumalanga to hold hands in the business sector because our clients want to see a united front, especially when you have a village cause all those buyers from oversees will want to come and find a one stop shop where they can get everything the aspire to have and buy it.”
Major developments are also in the pipeline within all the identified towns to provide various tourism products and services that will encourage tourists to visit the Liberation Heritage Route.
Local communities will be supported and encourage to participate in the process of growing the tourism sector in the region.
Some were in attendance at the Indaba.
One community member says, “Seeing buyers coming to my stand, I have made couple of appointments a big thanks to the Mpumalanga tourism that they gave us this chance.”
“What makes to keep coming here is because we want to learn what other businesses do to enhance the industry. Share more ideas on what more can we introduce to make sure constant progress on business,” says another community member.
Mpumalanga’s MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, Eric Kholwane says the rationale behind the Liberation Heritage Route is intended to preserve the country’s struggle history for future generations.
He says more research is vital to see if there are no more towns to be added.
Kholwane says, “The sector contributed 10 % of the country’s GDP and this is evident then from the statistics that tourism is about creating jobs and providing better life for all. It serves as a catalyst in our on-going program of addressing the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment in our country and our province.”
The development of this route will be done in phases.
Each of the towns currently provides tourism products and services that encourage tourists to visit and experience the whole route.