from FUTHI MBHELE in Durban
KwaZulu Natal Bureau
DURBAN, (CAJ News) – GLOBALLY, the majority of the 1,8 billion living in rural areas do not benefit from tourism.
A majority of these are youth, living in low and middle-income countries, as outlined by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
This result is forced migration to the cities, with local towns and villages dying out, while custom and heritage is lost.
The South Coast region of KwaZulu-Natal aims to reverse this trend.
South Coast Tourism explains that through rural tourism, outlying communities are included in the mainstream economies, tourists are afforded more authentic, nature-based experiences and conservation becomes a central tenet.
On the South Coast, this welcome trend has unearthed unique tourism assets for potential investors.
Phelisa Mangcu, Chief Executive Officer of South Coast Tourism and Investment Enterprise (SCTIE) concurred.
The executive said rural tourism was a necessary solution to the growing youth unemployment, a way to retain local culture and traditions as well as an important impetus for local conservation.
“On the KZN South Coast, we are committed to developing rural tourism assets to enhance our tourism offering for global tourists, while supporting local communities,” Mangcu said.
One of the prime examples of rural tourism offerings is KwaXolo Caves Adventures.
This is a unique adventure heritage tour that takes visitors into a series of caves which are adorned with San artwork dating back centuries. These are accessed using a via Ferrata system with a guided tour of the caves, and impressive views of the gorge and waterfall.
The success of this rural tourism experience has prompted its development, with the third phase of the project currently in the final stages.
The construction of an extended 1,06km zipline and landing deck will enhance the experience for those looking for adrenaline tourism.
This presents significant investment potential for businesses to establish an on-site lodge for overnight stays, extended ziplining opportunities, transportation to and from the site as well as recreational activities such as quad biking, and paintball.
Hiking trails are a popular tourism attraction and an area that was identified for development on the KZN South Coast.
This prompted the establishment of the 71km Umzumbe River Trails, a guided hiking or biking trail through the hinterland offering participants a nature-based adventure alongside authentic Zulu experiences in homestays along the way.
One notable investment opportunity is the establishment of a lodge alongside the dam which has been supported by a feasibility report issued by Umzumbe Town Planning. Potential also exists to develop recreational activities around the dam that extend the lodge offerings.
“As SCTIE, we will continue to engage with local communities, and traditional leaders to develop our rural tourism assets and uncover areas of further potential going forward,” Mangcu concluded.
– CAJ News