TOURISM

Local government's role

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SALGA recently took part in a Local Government Tourism Conference held at the Emperors Palace in Gauteng. The conference was held under the theme “Tourism: A Catalyst for Local Economic Growth, Job Creation and Transformation”.

SALGA Chairperson Thabo Manyoni delivered a speech on the Role of Local Government in promoting and transforming Local Tourism. Manyoni said all development takes place in municipal spaces and as such greater collaboration between all three spheres of government on concurrent functions is absolutely necessary.

Manyoni said in the past 15 years of democratic and developmental local governance, South Africa has been confronted with addressing the legacy of apartheid expressed in settlement patterns, service delivery disparities among the majority of the population and access to opportunities.

He said SALGA views the need to consider innovative ways for holiday making to be affordable for the average South African, and partnering with local government is essential to do so. He said SALGA as championing Small Town Regeneration will breathe new life into localities with great potential but who run the risk of becoming ghost towns.

“We are eager to partner with the department of Tourism in regenerating those towns with great tourism potential. We should note that Small and Rural Towns / Townships are home to about 50% of our population, yet they are the least developed, rapidly de-populating, and are to a large extent overlooked,” he said.

“While we are committed to fulfilling our traditional role in support of tourism by ensuring that that our localities are good places to live, work, do business and play, we also ought to think creatively about measures to increase tourism visits our localities.

“Let us tell the story of our distinct towns without forgetting that municipal good governance and commitment to the developmental agenda have enabled these developments that we can boast of. There is so much more we can do in collaboration as partners,” he said.

He said for the last twenty years, South Africa been celebrated for a peaceful transition from the apartheid regime, and a comprehensive constitution. “Through telling our local stories, and showcasing local achievements, we can expand our peaceful transition story, to a story of bringing to life our developmental aspirations,” he said.

He said there are many of these facilities that are visitor ready but are under marketed and can be optimised if municipalities are provided with hands on specialised support to profile these facilities and stimulate the appetite of local communities to enjoy these facilities. “Other facilities will of course require upgrading and maintenance investment,” he said.

He said while municipalities are earnestly working on reducing red tape and making it easier to set up tourism establishments in townships and rural spaces, municipalities also look forward to exploring ways in which SAT and the grading council can collaborate with municipalities to put these facilities on the map in a quest to enhance the competitiveness of these areas.

“Through the “going back to basics” approach municipalities are committed to optimising the day to day service delivery proficiency, maintaining and improving the look and feel of localities, and driving civic pride in the drive to enable tourism as a catalyst to economic development,” he said.

He said much like local government, the tourism sector is cross cutting and interdependent on many others. “Something as simple as road signage or bad service in the local store have an impact of the tourist experience, and thus we are also prepared to collaborate with other spheres of government and the private sector in profiling and, packaging our natural and social heritage as a competitive edge, and seek creative means to engage the appetite of the average South African in this sector,” he said.

He said local government is committed to working with the Department of Tourism to ensure an integrated and practical approach to optimise the socio-economic development potential municipalities through tourism. “Indeed, South Africa has much splendour to offer the world and its inhabitants – let us use it strategically to catalyse the transformation of our local spaces for the benefit of our people,” he said.

Credit: www.salga.org.za

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