WTM London 2017: New projects set to transform SA tourism

2017-11-08 11:03 - Kavitha Pillay
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Cape Town - A few new and exciting projects have been revealed during the World Travel Market (WTM) in London, that are set to transform tourism in South Africa.

WTM is a leading global event for the travel industry that is taking place from 6 - 8 November.

On Monday, 6 November, Thebe Tourism Group (TTG) CEO Jerry Mabena announced a few important and unique tourism projects, set in iconic locations, that are being undertaken by the company in SA.

Through sustainable tourism and innovative developments such as these, TTG is making strides in SA's international and domestic tourism sectors.

Here are the projects underway that local and international tourists can look forward to:

The Mandela Presidential Centre

The Mandela Presidential Boutique Hotel is housed in a former residence of South Africa’s first black president, and global icon, Nelson Mandela.

The nine-bedroom property promises "a five-star experience, with conferencing facilities and a fine dining restaurant, that will be a retreat haven for high-end business travellers, the diplomatic corps and leisure travellers from around the world".

SEE: Madiba's place of residence to be transformed into mega-lux boutique hotel

With the Nelson Mandela Foundation being a key stakeholder in this development, TTG says it showcases the economic potential and sustainability of refurbishing the Nelson Mandela property in Johannesburg. 

The hotel, expected to be ready for business in 2019, aims to provide an experience inspired by Madiba’s life and times while he resided and worked at the property.

Here's what it will look like:

The Nelson Mandela Presidential Centre. (Photo: Supplied)

The Kruger Shalati Development 

In the Skukuza part of Kruger National Park, a new development aims to "redefine travel and hospitality, offering a truly unique and extravagant experience”.

Located where the railway line ends at Skukuza, the Kruger Shalati luxury accommodation will be housed in a restored train which is the first mode of transport for guests in the park.

According to TTG, the train will be permanently located on top of the Selati bridge, giving visitors views of the park and the Sabie River to "provide guests with an old-world rail travel experience". There will be a lounge carriage and deck for added luxury.

SEE: Get out your binoculars: Kruger's annual birding weekends flies off this week

The name Shalati has its origins in the history of chief warrior Shalati, and the development will pay homage to its African history - both in design and ethos.

One of the best parts about this project is that the surrounding community will have equity in the project and TTG says that "locals will be empowered through world-class training to help deliver a unique and luxurious African travel experience".

The Blyde Community Project

Mpumalanga’s Panorama Route will see new iconic tourism opportunities in the region of the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve through the newly signed MOU between TTG and the Land Claimant Communities of the Reserve.

"The idea is to keep visitors in the area for longer by providing two crucial missing aspects: exciting and iconic attractions that everyone wants to experience, and accommodation for groups close to activities on offer," sasy TTG.

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Plans include building a sky-walk at God’s Window, a cable car at the Three Rondavels, to upgrade and manage the facilities at Bourke’s luck Potholes, and build a hotel to service the area.

Other Mpumalanga developments

Close to Kruger, plans include a proposed 36-room boutique riverside hotel, a 200-bed family-focused hotel, wildlife-based activities, dining, retail space and a hub of hospitality services including a staff housing project which is in demand in this area.

"The proposed developments will contribute to the upliftment of the community in this area by ways of revenue income shared with partnered communities. Furthermore, a development of this nature will not only create job opportunities where they are so desperately needed, but also create opportunities for people from the surrounding communities to receive training and further their careers beyond the products in this immediate precinct," says TTG.

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TTG says that it invests in the development of iconic tourism attractions or destinations that benefit people, and transform the sector. "All projects use locally-sourced resources and community partnerships."

Mabena adds that “by creating products which enhance the scenic beauty and global political importance, more people will be enticed to explore tourism offerings in SA.”

SA's small businesses in tourism

South African Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona believes that WTM presents a platform to showcase the breadth of South Africa’s tourism products and services - including the "vibrant small business sector that adds colour, diversity, variety and depth to its tourism palette".

“Creating jobs and contributing to the reduction of unemployment remains one of South Africa’s most urgent priorities in order to contribute to economic growth. Inclusive economic growth can only be achieved by creating a fertile environment in which tourism can take root and flourish. This includes giving small businesses and previously disadvantaged tourism players the opportunity to enter the industry, access the market and add to the diversity of our country’s tourism offering further making us a more attractive and unique destination,” he adds.

Here are some of SA's tourism highlights from WTM London:

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