Lavumisa tapped for key tourism role
The frontier town of Lavumisa is being primed for a transformation that will make it a key tourism facilitation asset for the South East Africa region. It has been identified as one of several regional projects to be undertaken as part of a four nation East3Route project for promoting tourism in Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa and Swaziland.
In the initial phase of the transformation of Lavumisa, the four countries have allocated E3 million to develop a handicraft market to be built in 2016.
The new initiative was announced following a high level ministerial tour by Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism JabulaneMabuza who was joined by tourism ministers of Mozambique and Seychelles and the Member of the KwaZulu Natal Executive Committee (MEC). The four countries are partners in the East3ROUTE, a concept to promote cross-border development and boost trade and business relationships between.
The ministers visited Lavumisa as part of their annual excursion to tour regional tourism assets when they identified the border town as a key node in their cooperative marketing plans for a regional travel and investment route.
This year’s east3Route, held between October 16 and 22, 2015, was the fifth since the East3ROUTE inception in 2011. They toured Mozambique where they saw the Joachim Chissano International Conference Centre and Five-Star Hotel construction site in Maputo; the Maputo Craft Market; the Maputo Museum and the Matola Interpretation Centre.
In Swaziland the ministers visited the eZulwini Craft Market and the near-by International Conference Centre and Five-Star Hotel construction site as well as the Swaziland National Museum (Umsamowesive). The tour then moved to Manzini where they saw the ESwatini Kitchen and the Riders’ Ranch at Sidvokodvo.
In Kwa Zulu Natal they toured the King Shaka Visitors Centre, the Luthuli Museum and the Dube Trade Port. In each country, a welcome cocktail was hosted on arrival by respective host country, followed by a tour the following day. Gala dinners were hosted at the end of day two in each country.
Speaking at the last gala dinner at eBandla Hotel in Balito, the KZN MEC Michael Mabuyakhulu highlighted the importance of sustaining the East3ROUTE initiative which calls for enhanced planning.
“Despite the strides we have made, our work is far from done. In that regard, we have come to repositioning the scope and time frames of the East3ROUTE to make it a year-long programme with several activities aimed at bolstering people-to-people interaction within the bloc,” he said.
Going forward, the East3ROUTE will be positioned within SADC as a leader in tourism and investment, Mabuyakhulu said. In the following years, the project would promote a wider stakeholder interaction. The project’s development plan will be presented to Heads of State as part of the sector’s contribution to fast tracking regional integration within the context of the SADC vision 2020 development plan.
Engaging SADC, he said would also address the issues of people and goods movement among countries. East3ROUTE advocates for the introduction of a uni-visa and single-border system that enables tourists to enter through one copuntry and visit all four countries.
The Lavumisa development falls under a major project for the development of border towns. The initiartive will be driven through East3ROUTE Legacy Projects. He gave an example of the Lavumisa/Golela border, where the government got a shot in the arm when the initiative, through KZN government, donated E3 million for the construction of a new craft market in Lavumisa.
The four countries are also implemented an East3ROUTE Progressive platform to promote business-to-business engagement to be driven by members’ Chambers of Commerce aiming at creation of synergies for cooperative growth.
He congratulated the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) and the Federation of Swaziland Employers and Chamber of Commerce (FSE&CC) for championing that business-to-business cause, and said it signified yet another triumph for the east3Route.
Another inititative is the introduction ‘East3ROUTE People’s Forums’ that Mabuyakhulu said will be held on a rotational basis, similar to the East3Route Business Investment Seminars introduced in 2012 and since hosted by Mozambique, Swaziland, KZN. The most recent in July was held in Seychelles.
Next year will see the launch of ‘Cultural Heritage Festivals’ that are expected to become a major entertainment drawcard in the region. The festivals have already been approved by member states. “The Cultural Heritage Festivals will incorporate our respective countries’ traditional and contemporary music, arts, dance, among other components,” he said.