With our tourism being a major contributor towards the local economy it is thus appropriate that our district and local municipalities contribute via appreciated grants to the coffers of Ugu South Coast Tourism.
Over 85% of our budget stems from this public sector funding which supports our marketing and development mandate within Service Level Agreements with them.
At the end of the month I will be attending the Local Government Tourism Conference in Gauteng at which a number of key topics will be presented and discussed in lieu of municipal involvement in the tourism sector.
Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom will open the conference with a programme that includes items relating to the promotion and transformation of local tourism, infrastructure requirements as a catalyst for stimulus of a local tourism economy and tourism development perspectives.
Analysis of our tourism sector will also present insights involving the challenges facing our domestic tourism and the implications for tourism through integrated development (of people, product and place) planning.
Destination marketing is key to tourism management and one topic I will be interested in relates to the marketing and branding of South Africa (presently too geo specific towards the Cape and our game parks in Mpumalanga) within the context of global competitiveness.
Regarding tourism development, we are all challenged to ensure that new initiatives are sustainable, capable of changing lives and within the principles of ethical/responsible applications. The developmental discussions at conference will be very important to us for the application of programmes and projects mainly in our rural areas.
In many parts of South Africa, local government has not invested heavily enough in the marketing and development of their particular region and as such, there has been a financial over burden on the private sector to attempt to be competitive.
At present, in our district this is not the case because the authorities recognise that tourism is the pillar that props up the local economy and sustains many thousands of livelihoods in the process.
The tourism management and funding model we utilise here is in my opinion a most appropriate one- especially for a tourism active destination like ours. Interestingly one of our “competitor” districts to the north of us has shown interest in our model and the KZN Community Tourism Association has asked us to present the model to delegates at their April meeting. Interesting times in Paradise.