All parks which fall under the aegis of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) went cashless on August 25, meaning that cash will no longer be accepted in those parks.
The MTPA’s CEO, Mduduzi Vilakazi, made the announcement during the official launch of Tourism Month, which officially kicked off on Friday August 25.
Vilakazi said that as part of supporting local tourism, MTPA has innovative ideas from which townships and rural communities will benefit. He announced new tourism plans that will have great economic spin-offs for local communities and urged local communities, especially the previously marginalised, to be involved and benefit from the tourism sector.
“To ensure that there is transformation in the tourism sector, we should make a deliberate decision to introduce new players and these players should be black and predominantly female, youth and people with disabilities. We’ve realised that the more we invest in women and youth, the easier it is to translate it into economic sharing,” Vilakazi said.
“The reality is that tourism products in Mpumalanga are mostly run by white tour operators who offer tourism packages not including products in our communities, whether townships or rural areas. This simply means that our people are not included and do not share in the benefit of the tourism sector. Tourists need to experience the township and rural communities. They need to know about diverse culture,” he explained.
He added that local and international tourists should be spending money in communities by supporting local businesses when they visit their area.
“Packages sold to tourists should include tourism in our townships and rural areas so they can start to share in the rewards. MTPA, in showing our commitment to local tourism, have chosen townships and rural tourism as key towards economic development and job creation in these communities, “said Vilakazi.
He also called on community members to support local tourism sectors and protect tourists who visit their area so that they can return.