Nhlanhla Khumalo, the new general manager for tourism development at Tourism KZN.
DURBAN - With a national reputation for getting things done, Nhlanhla Khumalo is a tourism action man.

“Yes. I have a reputation for delivering. I believe in action, not talk. I want to get things done and I don’t give up easily,” he said.

Khumalo has just taken up a position as general manager of tourism development at Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN) after 11 years in a range of senior jobs at the national Department of Environmental Affairs, which at one stage also encompassed the national Department of Tourism. It was a role that involved being responsible for all nine provinces.

Khumalo, who has a Master’s degree in tourism development, was the director of programme implementation for the coastal provinces for the past eight years, a job which included implementing tourism and environmental projects in KZN.

His track record includes managing, implementing and completing some 180 environmental protection and infrastructure projects around the country with a total budget of more than R5.4 billion and which achieved clean audits over the past seven financial years.

He also managed and implemented a programme that over-achieved on its annual performance plans, with a programme serving 391 stakeholders (245 in the public sector and 146 in the private sector) in the past seven years.

Khumalo was behind the tourism infrastructure development in various protected areas (nature reserves) and their surrounding communities in several provinces, including Kwa­Zulu-Natal.

“I have always been responsible for environmental and tourism infrastructure development, including, but not limited to, access roads and accommodation facilities in protected areas,” he said.

“Now I am coming back to my home province to do the same. It’s very exciting and something I have been wanting to do for a while,” said Khumalo, who hails from Newcastle.

His new job will be to identify potential infrastructure tourism projects and he says he already has a vision of where they will go and what they will entail.

The market wanted tourism projects linked to nature and that would mean further developing rural tourism, he said.

There had been less done in cultural and heritage tourism in KZN than in other provinces, he said, so he would be focusing his attention on rural tourism.

“There are sufficient opportunities for rural tourism development in the province for both cultural heritage and nature-based tourism products.

“In the battlefields and Zululand regions, for example, there is huge potential for cultural and heritage tourism. There is also huge potential for nature-based tourism on the Elephant Coast and surrounding areas,” he explained.

Khumalo said he would be looking for investors for the proposed tourism projects:“Consultation is the key in getting project funding. As long as you have got a plan that is easy to present, those who have the money will make it available, even if they had no plans to do that initially,” he said.

Public-private partnerships were options for such funding, as was the involvement of local communities, who could make land available. Previous projects have involved government funding, with private sector businesses operating the projects in areas where there were no public entities.

Khumalo planned to do a situational analysis of the opportunities available in KZN and to identify gaps for potential tourism development.

- THE MERCURY