Oupa Pilane, the President of the Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism (KLCBT), is pleading with the Mpumalanga Provincial Government to take tourism seriously and to start by fixing the roads, especially on the Panorama Route which is the jewel of tourism in the province.
The Panorama Route is not only one of the most popular tourist routes in Mpumalanga, it is also home to thousands of youth who are employed at various establishments along the route.
“The Panorama Route has the potential to create even more desperately needed jobs, especially for the youth in our province. It is a low-hanging fruit that can be maximised to create new and inclusive enterprises that will see more of our previously disadvantaged people taking an active role in the tourism industry,” says Pilane.
However, despite its potential to create thousands of jobs, the Panorama Route is one of the most neglected by government when it comes to the condition of the roads.
“Tourists do not want to come to the region because of these road conditions and those that are employed fear losing their jobs as the businesses they work for lose income as a result,” says Pilane.
The KLCBT has engaged government numerous times on this issue, especially the departments of economic development and tourism and public works, roads and transport.
“Our requests have fallen into deaf ears. Minor sub-standard interventions were attended to but due to the poor quality of work, the roads have become even more dangerous than they were before. We continue to receive negative feedback from visitors – both domestic and international – about the conditions of our roads,” says Pilane.
Many bicycle and motor sport events have been cancelled or put on hold due to the roads, which is also having a detrimental effect on job creation in the area.
“Our province’s reputation as the country’s inland tourism destination of choice is being jeopardised by the inability of the Mpumalanga Provincial Government to play their part. This has to be corrected,” Pilane stresses.
Mpumalanga’s tourism sector has welcomed the call by the President of South Africa to join hands and work together to reduce the level of unemployment in our province.
“We cannot do this alone and therefore urgently request the Mpumalanga Provincial Government to step up and partner with us to create a shared vision that will see our province grow and flourish and not stagnate,” Pilane concludes.