Head of Department
Let me at the outset indicate that our Province is very big in conservation given that it is home to no less than three National Parks (Kruger, Mapungubwe and Marakele National Parks), Provincial Parks and Municipal Parks.
Ladies and gentlemen, when in 2012, Limpopo Tourism Agency (LTA) launched Greater Mapungubwe Heritage Route; I guess it was to a greater extent influenced by a plethora of heritage sites found in this part of the world.
The objective was to bring the Mapungubwe brand to life, through product offerings and tourist experiences within, along and around the Greater Mapungubwe Heritage route. The route celebrates the incredibly rich history of the northern part of our province over the last 1 000 years.
The purpose for establishing this route was to establish a unique, world class heritage route in celebration of Mapungubwe Cultural landscape and other highly significant heritage sites/hubs in Limpopo (South Africa), Zimbabwe and Botswana; link up the heritage hubs with tourism loops and meanders to stimulate heritage tourism in Limpopo (South Africa), Botswana and Zimbabwe; and stimulate heritage tourism in Limpopo and across the borders in Botswana and Zimbabwe.
The route connects all heritage sites through loops and meanders, i.e. from Makapan’s Valley to Makgabeng, from Tjate to Modjadji, from Crooks Corner to Thulamela, from Mapungubwe to Great Zimbabwe ruins, etc. The cluster of heritage sites around Mapungubwe Park a World Heritage Site include the Thulamela Archaeological Site, the sacred Lake Fundudzi and royal Dzata Museum – the Lake Fundudzi Hub.
The Mapungubwe festival is a great opportunity for our tour operators to use to their expertise by packaging the route for purposes of growing tourism in the province – by:
Increasing arrivals – targeting travellers from other provinces as well as SADC to come experience the festival
Increasing visitor spend – giving visitors activities to do, to spend money on beyond staying in a hotel
Increasing length of stay – through pre or post tour packages
Stimulating geographic spread – festival goers must not only experience Polokwane, but come to Mapungubwe national park, experience the route and many other experiences available in the province – after all – there is More To Enjoy in Limpopo.
The launch of the festival at this venue to us is very apt, as it helps promote heritage tourism, which is very huge to the international market, but also we are seeing growing interest from our domestic and SADC visitors.
Tour operators are encouraged to be proactive by developing innovative and relevant packages that will entice travellers even beyond the festival to choose Limpopo than any destination given its tourism offering – and help us bring to life our motto – “More To enjoy” in our Province. We encourage our tour operators to ensure they use all the digital platforms available to spread the message about their packages.
More importantly, we are on a drive to encourage our biggest domestic travellers, those that visit the province “Visiting Friends and Families”- we want to target them to come to the festival but also spend time and money exploring their Limpopo. They must not just go to the festival and sleep at home, they must explore our hospitality sector and spend money at our attractions.
The competitive advantage we have as a province is that our Province shares borders with three SADC countries, namely Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. This says you can have your breakfast in Botswana, lunch in Zimbabwe, supper in Mozambique and dinner in South Africa. What an awesome experience this can be, even this is very inspiring for the VFRs.
LTA is fully behind this festival and committed to providing support for its success as we have already begun. We see this festival becoming one of Limpopo’s flagship event properties and a drawcard for many travelers, seeking to immerse in authentic African cultural and heritage experience. Our role is to leverage on this platform in order to grow tourism and increase awareness about Limpopo’s tourism offerings.
The more people the festival draws during the festive period, the more the propensity to have increased spent and stay in the province. This will help contribute to the tourist numbers which is what we need but will also help the province reclaim its number one spot as the most visited tourist destination in the country on a domestic tourism front. The success of this festival is invariably the success for tourism in the province.
I thank you.