The Mpumalanga Tourism & Parks Agency (MTPA) hosted the Gert Sibande Liberation Heritage route Charity Golf Day at the Graceland Hotel and Country Club in Secunda.
The aim of this event was to honour and pay tribute to the struggle stalwarts like Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme, Mahatma Gandhi, Richard Gert Sibande, Saul Mkhize, Nomoya Masilela and other heroes and heroines.
The Golf Day attracted golfers from Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Freestate and other areas. The wind hampered the golf scores a bit but everybody enjoyed the course.
The Bulletin had the opportunity to speak to the CEO of MTPA, Mr Johannes Nobunga, about the Golf Day.
“Events play a significant role in creating awareness about any tourism destination. There are people who travel not only for leisure or relaxation but for entertainment as well. The Gert Sibande Liberation Heritage route celebratory events afford us an opportunity to honor all those who were involved in achieving freedom for the people of South Africa”, said Nobunga.
The Gert Sibande District highlights the key freedom fighters who fought against apartheid and racial segregation. The district contributed greatly and was home to many of the freedom fighters who changed the history of the liberation struggle both nationally and internationally”, added Nobunga.
Following the development and launch of this tourism route, the MTPA has embarked on various marketing activities aimed at creating awareness about the route. Amongst others, the MTPA hosts annual celebratory events such as memorial lectures as well as the musical festival to further promote the rich history available on this route for keen travelers.
Nobunga also mentioned the rich cultural history of the highveld. He mentioned Bushman paintings, Boer battlefields and even a Mushroom rock.
The Charity Golf Day is used as an opportunity to engage with key strategic stakeholders to raise funds towards a Bursary Fund for students with a keen interest to study in the tourism and hospitality sector.
The theme for this year’s tourism month is “Rural Development and Tourism”. In the spirit of this theme, our celebrations will be rolled out in different phases and at various towns of the Gert Sibande District. The MTPA’s aim is to create awareness on the impact of tourism in our daily lives and use tourism as a tool for economic development. These celebratory events will provide us with an opportunity to showcase the tourism offerings and benefits to our local communities.
“We invite you to take a journey with us and participate in the planned programme of the Gert Sibande Liberation Heritage route celebratory events with the aim of promoting Mpumalanga as a destination of choice”, concluded Nobunga.
The evening ended with a Gala Dinner. Dignaturies included the Minister of Tourism, Hon. Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, Mr Fish Mahlalela, Deputy Minister of Tourism; Pat Ngomane MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism; Cllr Muzi Chirwa, Gert Sibande District Municipality and Cllr Yvonne Thandi Ngxonono, Mayor Govan Mbeki Municipality.
Minister Kubayi-Ngubane said during her speach at the Gala Dinner that she believes that tourism will play a vital role in the recovery of our economy.
“As you are aware the past six months of lockdown have been very difficult for our economy and in particular the tourism sector. However, since moving the country level-1 of the risk-adjusted strategy, we have seen the tourism sector rapidly coming back to life. For this reason, we are convinced that the tourism sector will be a key pillar of the overall recovery of the South African economy, following the devastation of the pandemic.”
“The Mpumalanga province in particular boosts of some of the world’s most beautiful tourism destinations in the world. From the wildlife in the Kruger National Park, through the scenic and the spectacular panoramic route of the Blyde river canyon to the Highlands meanders that are ready to receive the adventurous amongst us. This province will be a key pillar of the tourism sector recovery, thus the opportunities for tourism entrepreneurs will be limitless.” Said Kubayi-Ngubane.
Kubayi-Ngubane said that “The pandemic has had a very negative impact on the supply side of the tourism sector, for example, more than 30% of restaurants that were in business before the pandemic will not be reopening”
“The department has just concluded a tourism recovery strategy that we will be taken to cabinet in the coming weeks for approval. The plan envisaged that the recovery will, at first, be driven by domestic tourism, then regional and latterly, international tourism.”
It is clear that MTPA has plans afoot to try and recover the tourism industry, especially in Mpumalanga.
“The nature of tourism is such that it provides jobs and economic empowerment for all, including for women and youth thus creating a truly inclusive economy. Tourism gives rural communities the ability to protect and promote their natural surroundings, as well as their culture and heritage,” said Kubayi-Ngubane
Several sponsors helped make the day a success. The Bulletin spoke to Alicia Mngadi from AM Lodge about their involvement in the Golf Day and also their involvement with MTPA.