Why Newcastle in KZN is becoming a top SA destination to visit
NEWCASTLE is four hours away from Durban and three hours from Joburg.
The KZN attraction is fast becoming a top pandemic destination, especially since it borders the Free State and Mpumalanga provinces.
Tourism KwaZulu-Natal says this northern KZN gem is heading for a tourism-led economic recovery.
The destination has a string of initiatives and projects in the pipeline set to reposition Newcastle as a premier tourism destination, focussing on events, natural assets and cultural heritage.
Newcastle is home to late reggae star Lucky Dube, disc jockey DJ Zinhle and soccer players Helman Mkhalele and Deli Mbatha. Amajuba district mayor, Dr Musa Ngubane, said there has been an increase in township hospitality businesses, which has resulted in job creation and new experiences for travellers.
Ngubane said during the earlier stages of the lockdown, the town’s tourism sector lost more than R115-million.
Ngubane said the district was adjusting to the new travel patterns now that holidaymakers seek outdoor experiences and places where they are safe.
Outdoor sports like golfing, hiking, fly-fishing, motorsport, birdwatching and boating are top choices for travellers.
“We have short and medium-term interventions, including renovating and diversifying the tourism offerings at Balele Game Park and revamping the Emadlangeni Municipality Tourism Information Centre,” said the mayor.
The regional airport in Newcastle has been upgraded. It will be developed into a Techno Hub, presenting an ideal opportunity for attracting investment and employment.
There is also talk of a multi-million hotel and other accommodation outlets on the cards, although these negotiations have not been finalised.
The revised Amajuba Tourism Strategy aims to reset Newcastle’s tourism identity and brand. It is envisaged that it will become a blueprint for collaboration between government and industry, as both share the same vision: to make Newcastle a premier visitor destination.
“We found it was critical to engage the private sector. We have some exciting projects in the pipeline which will help to build the sector as the critical location of the town allows us to explore various options,” Ngubane said.
Samkelisiwe Yende, the speaker of the Newcastle Municipality, said the key to tourism’s recovery was to broaden the region’s marketing strategy.
“As a municipality, we are planning a video to promote what Newcastle can offer. While Newcastle is not your traditional tourist destination, it does attract a lot of business tourism,” she said.
Ongoing investment in tourism was integral to building a thriving, diverse and robust economy to future-proof Newcastle to withstand disruptions such as Covid-19," she said.