TOURISM MONTH GALA EVENING

SPEECH BY PREMIER HAZEL JENKINS AT THE OCCASSION OF THE TOURISM MONTH GALA EVENING, MOKALA NATIONAL PARK, MONDAY 28 SEPTEMBER 2009

Programme Director,

Deputy Minister of Tourism, Ms Xasa

Representatives from the different Embassies

Members of the Executive Council

Mayors present

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

It gives me great pleasure to extend a hearty welcome to all of you to our beautiful province, the Northern Cape. We are gathered here tonight knowing very well that we have reached the final stages of Tourism Month, which also happens to be Heritage Month - a month in which we staged many successful tourism awareness initiatives as we work towards creating a sound and welcoming tourism culture in the Northern Cape. We have also done much this month to highlight the joys of travelling and experiencing one’s own province.

Many successful sporting events were staged in various parts of our province. These events ranged from hosting the Bafana Bafana soccer match against Madagascar, the Griquas’s Currie Cup rugby match against the Gauteng Lions to extreme sporting events such as mountain bike challenges and marathons in the Kalahari desert.

We have also launched a campaign to promote “green” tourism practices in the provincial hospitality industry as a contribution to stem the negative impact of global warming, a phenomenon which will leave the Northern Cape in a particularly vulnerable position if it goes unchecked. The hospitality industry indeed has a big responsibility to curb their impact as one of the drivers of global warming. The Northern Cape Provincial Government will therefore enthusiastically support campaigns in the tourism industry to stem the pace of global warming.

In addition, this year we have also seen a strong collaboration between tourism, heritage and academic researchers to stage the first ever “Heritage in Tourism” week. The outcomes of this event will significantly impact on how we use our own diversity to drive successful tourism product development in the province for the sustained benefit of all of our people.

A very significant event “The History of the Liberation Struggle” project to document the liberation history of the Northern Cape was launched to great acclaim a few days ago. This project will not only contribute to an enhanced provincial diversity, but in future also be echoed in our tourism awareness programmes, especially where we will work with the youth of the Northern Cape.

Programme Director, we also gather here tonight as a prelude to celebrating World Tourism Day in Galeshewe tomorrow, knowing well that all the eyes of South Africa’s tourism stakeholders and neighbouring countries will be focused squarely on the Northern Cape as we host this all important day on the world tourism calendar.

This year we are guided by the international theme for World Tourism Day – “celebrating diversity”. South Africa and the Northern Cape are often admired for our diversity. In fact, it is one of the outstanding features making us a popular destination and there is little irony in our province playing national host on this important day on the international tourism calendar.

Galeshewe, one of South Africa’s oldest townships and steeped in history dating back to Kimberley’s spirited diamond rush days and the early struggle for political freedom in South Africa, is therefore the perfect venue for hosting the national World Tourism Day event.

However, our diversity is simply too valuable to only be celebrated on special days like World Tourism Day. I can therefore not ignore an inner voice which urges me to urgently look for more benefits to be derived from our provincial diversity locked up in our fascinating heritage and natural treasures. I can also not ignore my conscience to find a way to utilize our diversity to really benefit people living in the most rural outposts of our beautiful province or to touch the unemployed and desperately poor as they struggle for survival, often looking on jealously as smiling tourists pass through their villages.

Programme Director, as I take up the challenge to ensure that there is a lasting benefit in celebrating our diversity, allow me to quote an unknown KhoiSan songwriter, words that also leave us with a captivating question to answer:

“The day we die a soft breeze will wipe out our footprints in the sand.

When the wind dies down,

who will tell the timelessness that once we walked this way

in the dawn of time?”

Tourism is the new diamond in the Northern Cape treasure chest just as tourism is South Africa’s new gold. We will often turn to the provincial tourism industry to fill the gaps left in the wake of closing mines and failing harvests. Time and again our previously marginalized communities – in many cases the flag bearers of authentic cultural diversity - will look us in the eye rightfully asking how they too can engage in the provincial tourism industry not just as mere workers but as proud owners of successful tourism enterprises.

Programme Director, it is clear that our diversity becomes a far more important feature and asset as we recognize that it gives our provincial tourism industry a true competitive edge in the market. We have no choice but to keep boosting our diversity to build a more successful and sustainable Northern Cape tourism industry.

Yes, our diversity – as represented in the sounds, tastes and sights offered by our cultural dancers, traditional food, raging rivers, rough seas, winding dams, granite ravines, high craggy rock faces and rolling deserts – will no doubt be the powerful foundation of a successful and revitalized local tourism industry.

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