Speech by Deputy Minister of Tourism, Ms Tokozile Xasa at the launch of the Rustenburg Visitor Information Centre (VIC)
21 Sep 2009
It gives me great pleasure to launch this world class Visitor Information Centre (VIC) in Rustenburg today. This project was funded by our department and cost R 7,6 million to develop. It is the third of five such projects that we are launching in these months leading up to the 2010 Soccer World Cup. The model for these centres is based on the best international practice and they will assist our tourism authorities in providing outstanding service to tourists as well as other stakeholders
With the launch of this facility, we are a step closer to hosting a great event next year, one that all South Africans can be proud of. Five 2010 host cities were identified for the development of these VICs and these are Port Elizabeth, Polokwane, Nelspruit, Rustenburg and Bloemfontein. The VICs have been launched in Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.
These less visited provinces were earmarked for the VIC’s in preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, South Africa but also to grow their tourism arrivals from both local and international visitors beyond 2010. The VIC centres are a very important contact point for tourists when they enter the country or a city and they must service the needs of visitors as effectively as possible.
The target markets for the VIC’s include international tourists, local tourists, bed and breakfast establishments, homesteads, guesthouses, hotels, Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMMEs), booking agencies and tourism agencies.
In Rustenburg, the newly constructed centre was based on an international best practice model that was developed by the department to ensure that the objectives are achieved. The centre will provide a one-stop information service to tourists requiring information on a wide range of tourism aspects including tourism information enquiries, business, reservations, accommodation, tours, vehicle hire, entertainment, dining, sports, adventure, shopping, travel tips.
The model was developed not only to assist with enhancing the experience of tourists but also to contribute to the local economic development of the region. Therefore the VIC components such as the trading area, internet café and coffee shop will be outsourced to a SMME.
In Rustenburg, tourism is one of the key economic sectors that play a major role as a source of investment, job creation and local economic development.
Rustenburg is positioned as a key player in the regional economy. Rustenburg is the largest platinum mineral producer in the world. The N4 platinum freeway links Maputo Harbour in the east and Walvis Bay in the west. The province also shares a border with Botswana. Rustenburg has excellent recreation, entertainment, sport activities and world class accommodation. This is a unique eco-tourism and ethno tourism destination with diversity of culture, heritage, sporting and tourism products.
The information and reservation system used in the centres was developed in South Africa and is designed to cater specifically for the South African market. It has the same functionality as much more expensive international systems. The local system will allow for more participation by the members of tourism authorities, smaller establishments and SMME’s.
These members will for the first time also have access to a centralised, standardised and affordable reservation system and advertising at a fraction of the price it would cost as a member of an international organisation.
The system provides SMME’s with the opportunity to become members of a tourism organisation and be integrated into the tourism value chain. It will also allow members to update and control their reservation system, in turn providing up to the minute information to tourists. The rationale behind the information technology system was to integrate and standardise the technology component throughout South Africa to allow the visitor to have a seamless travel experience before, during and after the World Cup. It will also afford the visitor the ability to access information from any location in one of the five host cities.
These VICs enhance the main logic of bringing inclusive effective national, provincial and local structures together for driving development, management and promotion of the tourism sector in South Africa.
Furthermore VICs play an important role in tourism marketing and leveraging the tourism benefits to all players in the tourism industry because it exposes visitors and domestic tourist to choices they would not easily access before since some tourism businesses lack resources for marketing. As a country, we didn’t have a user-friendly system that assists the movements of the sophisticated domestic and well travelled tourist.
Apart from assisting tourist navigation of our country which will result in tourism boom, this initiative further strives to ensure equitable distribution of the tourism cake to all South Africans through increased work opportunities and strengthening SMMEs. We are eager to introduce a system that complies with and will exceed international standards through its continuous improvements.
This launch also takes place during a very significant month, September, September as you may be aware is national Tourism Month and it is being celebrated under the very relevant theme, “tourism: celebrating diversity. It is a theme that speaks to South Africa being a unique tourist destination with diverse cultures, destinations and tourism products. South African land is full of rich cultural heritage, friendly people, spectacular wildlife and stunning landscapes, that’s why it’s so famous for its mixed cultures, heritages and traditions that are blended together through its festivals, music and foods.
The North West is a culturally diverse region, which means equality needs to be at the forefront of regional economic strategy. The North West people and communities need to secure economic goals, development en entrepreneurial culture and boost productivity. We need to see the impact of North West equality and diversity strategy promoting economic inclusion through number of projects and programmes that can be a unique strategy that speaks to single regional strategy in promoting 2010.
South Africa is a popular tourist destination for foreigners and also locals. Growing the domestic tourism market and spreading the benefits of what has been termed as the new gold to all is important. I would like to encourage South Africans to explore their country. By being a traveller in your own country, you are contributing towards the industry, towards service excellence and you will learn what it means to be a welcoming host.
Our Sho’t Left campaign focuses specifically on encouraging South Africans to explore their own country, so I urge you to discover South Africa! Lastly the Department of Tourism has committed itself to finalising by next year, the first ever comprehensive tourism sector strategy for the country in partnership with business and civil society. This strategy will serve as a road map for guiding the sector in future and will be premised on the need to grow tourism sustainability, provide quality experiences to visitors, protect the environment and spread the benefits of tourism to all levels of society.
South Africa is on the brink of hosting one of the most significant global events in its history, the 2010 FIFA World Cup. This World Cup affords us a once in lifetime chance to show the best we have as a tourist destination: our people heritage, cultural diversity, our world class, infrastructure and a sense of place that fills all of us with pride. With just 262 days until the World Cup, it is appropriate to say, “ke nako celebrating Africa's humanity.”
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Tourism
21 September 2009
Source: Department of Tourism (http://www.deat.gov.za/)
Issued by: Department of Tourism
21 Sep 2009
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