Gert Sibande District Municipality (GSDM) hosted a delegation from Zimbabwe that were on a benchmarking exercise to South Africa on Wednesday, 11 July.
It was focused on trade promotion, with GSDM tasked with sharing best practices of the National Department of Tourism with Zimbabwe.
The visitors were on a quest to study and learn from South Africa about tourism development which they believe South Africa is doing very well in.
The visit also formed part of the implementation plans for the agreements between the two countries on issues of tourism as such an exercise contributes to the strengthening of regional integration with the South African Development Community (SADC) region.
The first interaction with the visitors was held at Manzana (Badplaas) where both the executive mayor of GSDM, Mr Muzi Chirwa, and Chief Albert Luthuli Municipality, Mr Dan Nkosi, shared with the visitors why GSDM and the entire Mpumalanga Province is the best place to be.
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The leaders briefly shared the history of the region, including the fact that both institutions are named after the struggle heroes Richard Gert Sibande and Chief Albert Luthuli.
They also imparted knowledge on tourism attraction areas and routes, including the nearby Barberton Makhonjwa Mountain which was recently inscribed as the first World Heritage Site in Mpumalanga and the 10th SA World Heritage Site.
“Mpumalanga is a tourism destination and we must promote tourism as a sustainable business. We must continue to promote, support and champion the issue of economic empowerment through tourism by using available resources,” Mr Chirwa said.
Dr Enivah Mutsau of the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry in Zimbabwe indicated that they were in South Africa on recommendation of Parliament, and that they study and learn how South Africa to excel in the tourism sector.
“We believe South Africa is doing very well in this particular area and that the knowledge received will go a long way in establishing universal accessible tourism facilities in Zimbabwe,” Dr Mutsau said.
The second day was dedicated to information sharing, presentations and activities prepared by GSDM and the tourism department and focussed on universal accessibility, safety and awareness strategies, and sustainable tourism.
GSDM’s whip of council, Mr Trevor Nkosi, said a few words in Shona, a language used in Zimbabwe, during his address.
The gathering was attended by various stakeholders based locally and beyond.
Mr Shavhani Mukwevho of the South African Department of Tourism expressed his gratitude to GSDM.