DURBAN - K waZulu-Natal’s South Coast hopes to increase its tourism product offering by adding agri-tourism to develop and transform the region’s rural areas.
Ugu South Coast Tourism (USCT) chief executive Phelisa Mangcu says it is high time people know more about the region's tourism than just its well-known Margate beaches.
“As Ugu-South Coast Tourism, one of our primary focus areas is to ensure that we support the development of innovative products that are unique and can drive tourists to other parts of the area.
"They should take people outside of their normal destinations in front of the beaches to places in the rural areas." says Mangcu.
USCT says that through their agri-tourism initiative, they aim to take tourists beyond the beaches. They want these tourists to experience local rural communities and spaces as well as enjoy the culture.
The South Coast area boasts banana, macadamia nut and tea tree plantations that they think will help the destination provide a diverse tourism product offering.
Mangcu says the agri-tourism sector currently does not exist in the region and it had never been seen as something that could be undertaken in the area.
“It is something we are exploring and, fortunately, we have received the support of key stakeholders because there is the need to take people outside to the area's hinterlands.
"We see great potential because agri-tourism is an act of visiting a working farm or any agricultural operation for the purpose of enjoyment, education or active involvement.”
To achieve that, USCT says there will need to be a strong stakeholder relationship, active communication and marketing of the destination products and the development of routes that go along the existing farms of different plantations.
The municipal entity says that the government needs to be involved, both the national and provincial department of agriculture and rural development (Dard).
“Since this is not about big farmers, but also the people on the ground, especially black farmers, when they need support.”
Mangcu says that they have already held stakeholder engagement, which saw the local sector proposing that they should provide a farm tour bus to tourists. She says the initiative will be led by the private sector in an enabling role.
USCT is also currently developing a new website, which will include more destinations from rural areas. They will use the digital platform to direct potential tourists to the rural destinations.
The entity says that once the agri-tourism sector is established, jobs will be created as businesses might be born out of the agricultural product range.
Mangcu says the platforms that come with the Fourth Industrial Revolution should be used for the benefit of the rural communities and their transformation.
“If we are talking about rural tourism development, 4IR can be used to expose these communities to the youth that is always engaged with its devices to share product experiences, destination and communities with the world and attracting.”