#SAHeritage: How the Reed Festival is boosting KZN tourism (Warning: Nudity)

2017-09-11 13:44 - Unathi Nkanjeni
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Picture: iStock

Cape Town - With Heritage Month and Tourism Month in full swing, KZN's annual traditional reed dance ceremony saw record crowds with tourists visiting the province and boosting economic growth.

According to the Department of Transport South Africa, close to 45 000 maidens travelled to Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s palace this past weekend, for the festival which celebrates womanhood and virginity.

Virginity testing (ukuhlolwa kwezintombi) is an ancient Zulu tradition that is regarded as an important rite of passage to womanhood.

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Mluleki Mtungwa says that the event attracts domestic and international tourists.

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Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini says the increasing number of tourists attending the event boosts the province's economy.

“Over three decades this ceremony has become a popular heritage and tourism attraction for the province as it pulls thousands of domestic and international tourists. 

"It blends well with the Kingdom of the Zulu marketing strategy. Umkhosi woMhlanga does not only reflect the rich historical and tourism potential it also helps create jobs for the impoverished locals,” says Zwelithini.

'opportunities for jobs and economic development'

With South Africans from all walks of life celebrating their rich heritage this month, the departments of arts and culture and of tourism have identified this new kind of tourism as a way to contribute to job creation as part of government’s New Growth Path.

By attracting tourists, many of South Africa’s museums and other heritage resources such as our World Heritage Sites like Robben Island and Mapungubwe, contribute to social and economic development.

SEE: WATCH: This short film captures SA heritage storytelling at its best

Arts and Culture Deputy Minister, Rejoice Mabudafhasi says South Africa should use its rich liberation heritage to attract visitors to the country.

“Our rich liberation heritage must be used to draw visitors or enable tourism to South Africa thus providing opportunities for jobs and economic development,” says Mabudafhasi.

Heritage events to check out across SA

As one of South Africa's official public holidays, Heritage Day's significance rests in recognising aspects of South African culture through creative expression, historical inheritance, language, the food we eat as well as the land in which we live.

Celebrated on 24 September, here are some of the events happening across SA to check out:

ALSO SEE: #LoveSA: Celebrating Heritage Month at SA’s national parks

Port Elizabeth

This Heritage long-weekend, Nelson Mandela Bay's rich cultural heritage guarantees you a unique insight into the Bay and the Eastern Cape's diverse and remarkable past.

SEE: #LoveSA: Enjoy Heritage long-weekend in Port Elizabeth

Cape Town 

As Western Cape's most developed tourism region, Cape Town is keeping it local and lekker with the event line up for the Heritage weekend.

SEE: #LoveSA: Enjoy Heritage long-weekend in Port Elizabeth

Garden Route

The Garden Route features the Pont at Malgas, which is one of the two remaining ponts in the country, ferrying vehicles and livestock across the Breede River. This popular route spans roughly 200 km of South Africa’s southern coast, incorporating a picturesque stretch of coastline.

SEE: #HeritageWeekend: Spend it along the glorious Garden Route


One of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, the province encourages saffas to celebrate their culture and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions, in the wider context of a nation that belongs to all its people.

SEE: #LoveSA: Find your escape in Durbs this Heritage Day


The city of gold is going all out for the heritage long weekend - with a selection of events to remind you of your roots and celebrate the diversity of South Africa.

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