Friends of the Falls are, from left, Frank Mchunu, director of the Zulu Mpophomeni Tourism Experience and president of Skal International KZN Midlands, Irvin Makhaye, tourist ambassador, and Alison Kelly, vice-president of Skal International KZN Midlands.

Durban - Celebrate SA Tourism month this September. Explore what’s hot and happening on the local holiday scene at the 2012 Sunday Tribune Garden and Leisure Show’s own Tourism Fair.

Organised by the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands chapter of Skal International, a service club of tourism professionals, in association with the Royal Agricultural Society, this consumer exhibit is sure to offer a spectacle of home-grown country fare.

“This is a great opportunity for us to spread the news about what the KZN Midlands has to offer,” says Frank Mchunu, director of the Zulu Mpophomeni Tourism Experience (ZMTE) and president of Skal International KZN Midlands.

“From the Howick Falls and Mandela’s capture site to the majestic Drakensberg and spectacular Midmar Dam, there is something for everybody when it comes to affordable and exciting destinations.”

Mchunu, who has a national diploma in marketing and trained in hospitality management, joined Skal in 2004 and was elected president early this year.

“I am passionate about promoting grass-roots tourism,” says Mchunu, who grew up in Mpophomeni, a township on the outskirts of Howick. “As the director of ZMTE, for me it is all about working with the people, providing the relevant knowledge and business skills to ensure the long-term sustainability of any new business development.”

Formed in 1998, ZMTE is a non-profit organisation dedicated to enriching and empowering the local communities of Mpophomeni and surrounding rural areas. This award-winning ecotourism enterprise offers a special experience of traditional Zulu hospitality.

Visitors get to enjoy the rich local history, colourful culture and vibrant township life.

This year will see the opening of the Mpophomeni Gateway Tourism Centre. The building, on the turn-off from the R617, the main tourism route to the southern Drakensberg, will house an information centre and provide a home for local crafters.

Also top of the tourism agenda for Mchunu is his full support for the Friends of the Falls campaign. In 2010 a group of Howick businesses and Skal joined forces to rejuvenate one of the most popular tourist attractions in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, the Howick Falls.

“The warm and friendly welcome from our tourism ambassadors, a cleaner and more presentable environment and an upgraded viewing site have made all the difference,” says Mchunu.

“All the hard work has paid off. According to statistics collected by the Friends of the Falls, there was a 51 percent increase in total visitor numbers when you compare July 2012 and July 2011. What a great result.”

To discover more about what our magnificent province has to offer in the way of proudly KZN getaway attractions, visit the Sunday Tribune Garden and Leisure Show Tourism Fair.

l Sunday Tribune Garden and Leisure Show information:

The show will run from September 21 to 24 at the Pietermaritzburg Royal Showgrounds. This year’s event will be extended to include the Heritage Day public holiday on the Monday after the weekend.

The entry fee is R50 for adults, R35 for children under 12 and free for pre-school children accompanied by an adult. Parking is available on the Voortrekker sport field opposite the main entrance to the showgrounds at R15 a vehicle. - Sunday Tribune