The Eastern Cape tourism sector continues to attract both international and local tourists who are exploring eco and heritage tourism. The province launched its summer season at the world-renowned Wild Coast.
Tourism is one of the economic pillars of the province and is a vital source of income for thousands of rural households. Boasting a magnificent coastline which stretches 800 kilometres, the Wild Coast has everything a tourist could dream of seeing in South Africa. But it’s also vital to the tourism sector, creating jobs for thousands of people.
“The Wild Coast has got very unique plants and fishes and endemic plants; we have fish that migrate from Mozambique to this Wild Coast. So, people from other parts of the country and abroad must come to the Wild Coast and have joy,” says Group Director of the Tourism Advocacy Sinegugu Zukulu.
Rural communities are urged to get involved in the tourism sector to give visitors the real feel of the Eastern Cape.
“Yes, we have initiatives run by the communities like the homestays. Hikers do not have to stay in established rooms but communities open up their homes and accommodate tourists. It’s a way of creating jobs, it’s a way of fighting poverty through tourism,” says Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency’s Lavinia Shaw.
The provincial government has injected millions of rands into youth-driven initiatives in the tourism sector.
“We value tourism because it creates jobs, some are permanent, some are temporal like this one here at the Wild Coast. People here are working, some are selling, so we value it because it’s exactly our mission to change lives out of tourism, so we value it,” says Mlungisi Mvoko, Eastern Cape MEC for Finance and Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism.
“We have seen Chinese here in our area, they go there and use those homestays and stay there. This also creates jobs as we have heard one of the ladies that they benefit from these homestays where they accommodate our people,” says Winnie Madikizela Mandela Municipality Mayor Daniswa Mafumbatha.
The sector is also eyeing a bumper festive season now that the threat of COVID-19 appears to have eased.