Members of the Mpumalanga Tourism Authority recently joined the provincial MEC for Economic Development and Planning, William Lubisi, at Europe's largest travel and tourism show, reports Wilson Matsawela of Bua News. Held in Germany, the International Tourisme Borse has almost 10,000 exhibitors attending. Mpumalanga intends to showcase its tourism products at the expo, especially as Germany is Mpumalanga's second largest international market. Mpumalanga has participated in the ITB since 1996.
A section of the road leading up to the Orpen Gate of the Kruger National Park has finally been deproclaimed, making way for the park to move the gate from its existing position to a location close to the entrance of the Manyeleti Nature Reserve. The park had discussed moving the gate as long ago as the early 1990s, and made an application to deproclaim the road in 2001.
However, it was only in the last few weeks that permission came through from Limpopo provincial officials to deproclaim the road. After waiting so long for this, the park is not letting grass grow under its feet and has already approached architects to draw up a design for the gate. Preliminary plans are expected this month, with a concept design being completed by the end of May.
The design will be in keeping with other entrance gates to the park, and is intended to be a low impact structure that blends into the surroundings and existing infrastructure. Last December an environmental impact (EI) process was begun for the new gate and surrounding infrastructure. The EI process should be completed over a period of a few months, probably by the end of June. Project manager Derek Visagie believes that construction should begin this year, but probably not before October.
In the first phase of construction a new gate will be built, which will include a Wild card lane, a reception area and public ablutions. It is expected to be similar to the new Punda Maria entrance. The delays in deproclaiming the road have resulted in the budget being too small this year to build the other infrastructure that the park intends to provide.
Next year the park will look at building staff accommodation close to the gate. They are also currently involved in consultations with the surrounding communities to build a curio shop just outside the park entrance. Moving the existing Orpen Gate petrol station from inside the park to the new gate was also considered, but Visagie says that Total have said that at this time it is not feasible due to the volume of petrol being sold.
Read more about Orpen Gate Game Viewing Routes
The first tourism academy in Mpumalanga has been opened just outside Nelspruit at Tekwane South, reports Wilson Matsawela of Bua News. The Provincial Hospitality and Tourism Academy will enrol about 120 students in diploma and certificate programmes aimed at dealing with skills shortages in the Mpumalanga tourism industry.