2 June 2003
Three ailing Limpopo tourist resorts, all mismanaged relics from the former Venda homeland era, have been successfully revived through a business partnership between the provincial government, local communities and a major hotel group.
The Mphephu and Rambuda communities hosted a glittering event near Thohoyandou last week to launch the new venture, in association with the government-funded Limpopo Development Corporation (LimDev) and the Protea Hotel Group.
Speaking at the event, Limpopo Finance and Tourism MEC Thaba Mufamadi said the launching and future marketing of the Nwanedi, Mphephu and Acacia Resorts under the Protea brand name presented a challenge to other parastatals.
Mufamadi confirmed that nine of Limpopo’s 11 provincial nature reserves would be commercialised. These projects would benefit rural communities along the boundaries of the conservation areas.
LimDev managing director Chris Luvhani pointed out that the corporation had retrenched 745 employees in 1998, including the staff of all resorts it owned, because these ventures had become unviable.
However, after enlisting the support of the Mphephu and Rambuda communities, and taking some practical advice from the province’s directorate of tourism, new strategies emerged and funding was made available.
“Repairs to flood-damaged roads during the 2001/2002 financial year, and the overall upgrading of infrastructure ahead of the huge influx of visitors for Eclipse 2002, brought the final about-turn,” Luvhani said.
When the upgrading of the resorts began, more than 50 tenders for tasks such as thatching, tiling, furnishing, landscaping and fencing were awarded to local contractors, thus providing employment for people from the local communities, he added.
Paramount Chief Ramabulana Mphephu underlined the importance of ongoing consultation with local communities. He appealed to resort management to purchase fresh produce and other necessities from residents in the region.
As a gesture of goodwill, LimDev handed a cheque for R18 000 to the newly established Mphephu Community Development Trust.