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TOURISM BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The district faces a declining economy, high level of poverty, underdeveloped and infrastructure backlogs as well as reliance on the government sector. The economy of the district hinges around the key drivers and growth sector which is tourism is amongst them. Tourism section falls under the Local Economic Development sector together with Agriculture, Environment and Special planning. The O.R.Tambo DM has identified tourism as one of its economic drivers and growth sector. The untapped natural resources, culture and historic heritage that put the district in the international map are some strategic assets that the district possesses. Initiatives pursued under tourism development include;
Tourism Research and Development: The programme seeks to audit and facilitate the provision infrastructure to and at tourist sites, e.g. roads, signage, water and sanitation, electricity, ablution facilities, viewing sites and amenities, and the overall destination management. Facilitate and coordinates activities and key deliverables associated with tourism support factors like. The programme is meant to improve or expand our tourism product or operation to fit identified trends in global tourism and to position our local business to meet future market demands. Works hand in hand with arts, culture and heritage section in terms of research, information and management systems. Visit arrivals, trends, destination marketing (print media, website, social media, exhibitions, shows, and identify platforms)
Rural Development: This programme seeks to give overall support to tourism product owners, entrepreneurs by assessing the state of tourism products, identify training needs and coordinate trainings, create linkages to funding opportunities, assisting in development of business plans, assist in registration of cooperatives, and individual operators, resources mobilization. Facilitate establishment of associations, forge linkages to marketing, assist tourism SMMEs to attend exhibitions and shows e.g. Tourism Indaba Trade Shows.
Tourism Marketing and Promotion: Tourism marking is critical to the competitiveness of the tourism sector. The key focus is marketing of O.R.Tambo as a tourism destination. Research information and management systems, visit arrivals, trends, destination marketing (print media, website, social media, exhibitions, shows, and identify platforms) Encourage participating of local stakeholders in tourism planning, by creating platforms like regional and local tourism forums, wherein experiences, challenges and solutions are shared. Facilitate establishment of associations, forge linkages to marketing, assist tourism SMMEs to attend exhibitions and shows e.g. Tourism Indaba Trade Shows.
Tourism Education and Awareness: Campaigns to create awareness focusing on host communities (where there are tourist activities), use of media (print and electronic) to engage learners and public to debate and support the cause for tourism. Holding tourism and cultural events, safety and security related activities with SAPS.
Visual Arts and Craft Development: The programme also enables members of the visual arts and craft community to promote their work and showcase their product to national and international markets and it also stimulate and strengthen the local economy.
Individuals and Cooperative are provided with soft and technical skills, which they will use to generate income and is a direct intervention to poverty alleviation. Within the selected areas, individuals are trained and then encouraged to form a business entity that will be trading in different product manufacturing, telephone wire basketry, weaving and beaded products etc. The unit also hosts sector specific arts and crafts empowerment workshops to equip the SMMEs with sector specific information and assists the SMME’s to access markets through exhibitions. There are various annual national exhibitions where the artists and crafters are exposed and financially sponsored by the unit to participate in shows like the Durban Business Fair, tourism Indaba, National Arts Festival and SA Handmade Collection Expo, Mangaung Africa Festival (MACUFE), etc. The programme also extends to international exhibitions hence markets through sister city relationships where applicable and even outside of the sister cities network.