South Africa’s Northernmost Province of Limpopo, with its endowed tourism offering and products have resolved to make tourism the driving force of the region’s economy. The province which boasts over 70% of the famous Kruger National Park and other diverse tourism assets is deploying strategies to ensure that the region benefits from the enormous natural and historical offerings.
Profile of Province
The name “Limpopo” has its etymological origin in the Ndebele language, the original inhabitants of the area, meaning “strong gushing waterfalls”. The capital is Polokwane.
The province was formed from the northern region of Transvaal Province in 1994, and was initially named Northern Transvaal. The following year, it was renamed Northern Province, which remained the name until 2003, when it was formally changed to Limpopo after deliberations by the provincial government and amendment of the South African Constitution.
It is considered the bread basket of the rainbow nation due to…. It has five districts which spans an area size of 48,554 square miles with an estimated population of nearly six million people. The five districts under the province are, Capricorn District ,Mopani District, Sekhukhune District, Vhembe District and Waterberg District.
The Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism has targeted the province as a preferred eco-tourism destination. Its Environment and Tourism Programme encompasses tourism, protected areas and community environment development to achieve sustainable economic growth.
With its endowed resources in tourism, it hardly pops up as the top of mind when it comes planning travels to South Africa. The Member of Executive Council (MEC) for Limpopo’s Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET) department Thabo Andrew Mokone is optimistic the region is poised to use the power of tourism to propel the province. In an interview with VoyagesAfriq, he identified Tourism as one of the pillars to drive the economy of Limpopo. In his view, Limpopo has all that any destination can offer to draw the tourist dollar.
In a conversation with VoyagesAfriq, the MEC opined that, all the 5 districts in the Limpopo Province have unique and alluring tourism offerings which can help alleviate the plight of the people and create opportunities for the teaming youth and people of the area.
The administration in admitting the power of the sector also outlined plans and strategies to help in attaining the goals. Mr Mokone is determined to see Limpopo be the number one province for domestic and international tourists to the region.
‘’ Since we have taken a decision that tourism is a catalyst for economic growth, we need to put in the necessary infrastructure to help us maximise the full potential of the region. We have also started engaging tertiary and vocational institutions to begin offering courses in the area of tourism and hospitality. This will definitely create employment opportunities for the people.’’
We have put in plans to retool and equip the already existing hospitality institutions to aid capacity building.
Religion or Faith tourism is one area the province is endowed with. The province is home to the Zion Christian Church which attracts thousands of worshippers from South Africa and beyond. The local government structure sees it as an avenue to encourage and drive visitor spend.
‘’We have one of the biggest churches in Southern Africa, every year there is a pilgrimage to this area and efforts are being made to expand facilities and grow the tourism component of their activities’’ he concluded.
Limpopo Tourism Agency
The Limpopo Tourism Agency (LTA) which is entrusted with the responsibilities of marketing the tourism offering of the province has deployed multifaced approach in ensuring that the region maximises the full potential of the sector. The Chief Executive Officer of LTA Nomasonto Ndlovu wants Limpopo to be the most sought-after destination. In an interview with VoyagesAfriq, the CEO said
‘’We are very fortunate because the Limpopo government has understood the importance of tourism as a catalyst for economic growth and development. To this end, Limpopo Tourism Agency’s mandate has been refocussed and is now single mindedly dedicated to destination marketing. We have been given a task to ensure Limpopo is top-of-mind in terms of brand awareness and that the destination is in the consideration set of potential holiday makers whether in and around South Africa, within the African region or also internationally’’.
The LTA Boss wants the brand proposition of the destination to move beyond its eco and wildlife tourism assets to encompass a more diverse offering for visitors.
‘’We are committed to defending our market share but also work hard to increase the tourist spend which is critical for contribution to the GDP and job creation. This is also why we reworked our destination brand proposition from just” eco-tourism destination” to a more diverse destination that has so much ”more to enjoy”.
Our visitors will testify that there is a wide variety of amazing experiences to enjoy in Limpopo. These include our awe-inspiring and unspoilt natural scenery, rich culture, abundant wildlife including world-famous Kruger National Park, a variety of sporting and lifestyle events (e.g. Marula festival, Limpopo Golf Championship, Mapungubwe fetival, Tour de Limpopo cycle tour, to name but a few). Our proximity to Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique gives us a competitive advantage to leverage for cross-border promotions that stimulate infra-Africa travel.
The Province as opposed to how its perceived has some of the leading properties in South Africa. Hotels, Lodges and guesthouses that can cater for the luxury market, middle class and the ordinary visitor. Properties such as luxurious AM Safari Lodge, Fusion Boutique Hotel, Sefapane Lodge, Park Inn by Radisson, Sun International’s Meropa Sun Hotels is just a few to mention.
Stakeholders and operators in the tourism sector believe tourism offers the unique opportunity not only to create employment but to showcase the diverse cultural offering of the people. They think the province of Limpopo offers something different and one needs to experience it.
General Manager of Fusion Properties Maria, said ‘’Limpopo is ready for the Meetings Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions (MICE) Product, we have variety of products on offer with bigger, smaller, exclusive and niche venues. Limpopo offers unique experience, everyone has done Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, but Limpopo is unique, and offers a fresh and typically South African MICE Experience’’
More diverse tourism offerings can be found in the mining town of Phalaborwa. Anyone looking at the opportunities that are coming up, the world activity hub which gives us access to the Kruger National Park. As much as we are based in the small mining town of Phalaborwa, this is growth area given the proximity to the Kruger, and ease of access to Mozambique Aldecia Seapane Lodge, Marketing Manager.
The Province ranks number one as the most favoured domestic tourist destination. From outdoor adventure, culture, wildlife, agro tourism, sports and leisure, the destination is spoilt for choices. Its latest addition of lifestyle events has made Limpopo even more popular with domestic and international guests. The mighty Kruger National Park is located in the province and other captivating attractions such as the Magoebaskloof Adventure, Mapungubwe National Park (UNESCO World Heritage site), Hotsprings, and a variety of Nature reserves.