African tourism without borders

18 September 2009

South Africa’s Mpumalanga province is to partner with neighbouring countries Mozambique and Swaziland to create a wild, scenic, cross-border tourism magnet in south-eastern Africa.

Mpumalanga, Swaziland and Mozambican tourism authorities have agreed to pool their resources, and collectively package their tourism products, to draw more international tourists not only to South Africa but to its southern African neighbours as well.

Announcing the deal in White River, Mpumalanga on Wednesday, Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency CEO Charles Ndabeni said the idea was to enable visitors “to have breakfast in Mpumalanga, lunch in Mbabane, Swaziland, and supper in Mozambique”.

Ndabeni said a memorandum of understanding would be signed in November to seal the deal, after a “few outstanding issues have been ironed out”.

The three tourism authorities plan to collaborate in developing a regional brand identity, as well as in regional destination marketing campaigns, tourism airlift strategies, research and information management, tourism product development, and 2010 Fifa World Cup initiatives.

Ndabeni said the partnership might expand in the future to include South Africa’s northern Limpopo province, Angola and Zimbabwe.

Of the 924-million people who toured the world in 2008, 498-million visited Europe, while only 45-million visited Africa. Ndabeni said the partnership aimed to change this.

“We [want] to start packaging our key iconic areas so that we are not looking at ourselves in isolation from the big picture, which is that Africa as a continent is harvesting less than 2 percent of global tourism, and this needs to change,” he said.

Mpumalanga province is a major South African tourism drawcard, covering nearly 80 000 square kilometres and offering spectacular scenic beauty and an abundance of wildlife in both private game reserves and the world-famous Kruger National Park.

Mpumalanga – which translates loosely “the place where the sun rises” – also provides a microcosm of Ndebele and Swazi culture, history and heritage.

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