Buffalo City Tourism Growth Strategy workshop: tackling the challenges facing tourism sector

23 April 2018
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Buffalo City Tourism hosted a workshop on their new Tourism Sector Growth Strategy (TSGS), providing stakeholders an opportunity to engage with, and provide input into the strategy at Hotel Osner on the 19th of April, 2017.

Driven by Urban-Econ Development Economists (UE), a Port Elizabeth based company that offers a number of services in different industries. The private company was appointed to conduct TSGS and their research commenced at the end of November 2016 and finished on May 2017.

UE offers services that include; tourism plans, strategic framework, market research, surveys and project implementation and a number of other economic-related services.

Based on their research findings, the tourism sector has increased rapidly with special interest tourists being motivated by the desire to go on holiday, learn about the rich culture and heritage of Buffalo City and learn about the incredible biodiversity in the beautiful Coast Nature Reserve and the Botanical Gardens in King William’s Town.

Developmental Economist, Vimbai Maronga said they received 50 RSVPs and a total of 60 people attended.

“It was a good turnout, and it was good to get a feel from stakeholders and hear what they need from us,” said Maranga

Having started on time, head of Economic Development and Agencies, Councillor Mawethu Marata welcomed the house by addressing the major problems facing South Africa which are poverty and inequality, and how entrepreneurs can actively take part in the tourism sector.

The 6-hour session entailed discussions, a strategic framework in identifying major projects and recommendations and how to improve the metro’s tourism. There were group activities on product development, safety and security, tourism-related infrastructure, responsible tourism, and marketing.

Participants had to suggest possible solutions on the above topics and how the tourism sector can improve, as well as indicating parties or bodies responsible for the project implementation.

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The stakeholders included local entrepreneurs, travel agents and private companies.

South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) was among other the agencies that were at the workshop.

Curator, Leanne Kessler said “The workshop was a success, the tourism industry really needs some improvements, and talking about improvements, 3 years ago we added Kwelera as a National Botanical Garden which is a great sight to see for tourists who might be interested in our gardens.”

BC Tourism aims to inspire families to travel and encourage South Africans and international tourists to visit buffalo city’s tourism sites and destinations and discover the therapeutic nature of visiting along with the inherent beauty of the metro.

Stakeholders suggested strategies on how to improve the metro’s tourism, suggestions included the use short documentaries or videos about tourism sites in various South African languages on Youtube need to be carried out.

Responsible tourism was the most important aspect in the group discussions, keeping a city clean attracts tourists, the tourism sector must consider developing a green tourism initiative by implanting ideas such as: certifying environmentally friendly hotels, minimising urban sprawl, adding plants and flowers to cityscapes and minimising the use of plastic.

Security upgrades, roads and other means of transport which will lead to the tourist attractions should be improved as well.

In terms of visitors to the city, Hemingways Shopping Mall was leading the pack with 8966 686 visitors per annum and East London beaches with 50 000 visitors per day during the festive season.

Steve Biko Centre had 77 620 visitors who were interested in Buffalo City’s heritage and culture.

Buffalo City has many points of interest. Families can visit the Buffalo Zoo, people who are interested in nature can visit the botanical gardens and the oldest aquarium in South Africa and for history, heritage and culture Steve Biko Centre in Ginsberg and Buffalo Museum.

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