Durban – The 2010 FIFA World Cup may not have had direct impact on some places in South Africa but it sure did draw attention to it. Mpumalanga is one such example.
Ezrom Sekgobela, Brand Manager at Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks, said in comparison to other provinces like KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape, Mpumalanga wasn’t that well known.
But after the final whistle was blown at the biggest football tournament, people knew a little more about Mpumalanga, which boasts diverse tourism activities.
“We have a very rich cultural heritage and scenic beauty. Mpumalanga is an archaeologist’s dream. There are ancient rock formations and stone settlements,” said Sekgobela.
Apart from a significant piece of history of the world that is found in Mpumalanga, the province is also an excellent tourist destination because it has private game reserves.
Sekgobela would go as far as dubbing Mpumalanga “the adventure capital of South Africa”.
The domestic market is the source market for Mpumalanga tourism, with most of its visitors coming from the Western Cape, KZN and Gauteng.
Sekgobela said the province is joining forces with Mozambique and Swaziland on a package that will allow both domestic and international tourists to enjoy the BBC. That is the bush in Mpumalanga, beaches in Mozambique and culture in Swaziland.
Another strategy is to work with Western Cape and Seychelles Tourism to also offer a combined package where people can experience, the wildlife, nightlife and beaches.
While Mpumalanga offers much in tourism, Sekgobela said “people make destinations, and peaceful people are found in Mpumalanga”.
Robert Tooley CEO of Limpopo Tourism and Parks said his province is not in competition with bigger provinces which attracts more of the tourists, simply because “we can’t”.
What Limpopo has been doing is establishing their niche in the tourism market. One activity which Tooley’s team focuses on is avi-tourism (bird watching).
The province is said to be home to around 620 unique birds and has become a major draw card for Limpopo.
They also have a host of birds that migrate to the province, therefore viewing water birds also adds to a tourist’s experience.
Tooley said the weather also favours tourism in Limpopo. During June and July, temperatures do not go below 18 and stays around 26 degrees.
The province known for its eco tourism, also enjoys a diverse typography with a strong cultural heritage, said Tooley.
The World Cup has even managed to raise the profile of a little landlocked place called Malawi.
Salad Nthenda from the Malawi Department of Tourism said although there have been no direct benefits from the World Cup, Malawi did get lots of exposure.
“Some groups travelled from Egypt to South Africa and stopped in Malawi. During an exhibition at Melrose Arch last year, we were able to talk to people who showed huge interest in visiting our country,” said Nthenda.
The key markets for Malawi have been the UK, Netherlands and South Africa. But interest has been shown from other parts of the world, including Australia, China and North America.
Despite not having massive budgets to spend on marketing, the word-of-mouth method has been quite effective for the country.
“We have biodiversity and fresh water with amazing diving spots. The crime rates are relatively low so people are safe to walk. We have been a stable nation since our independence in the 1960s,” said Nthenda. – Kemantha Govender, BuaNews