DETERMINED to boost regional tourism and investment between KwaZulu-Natal and its neighbours Mozambique and Swaziland, tourism officials launched the Tripartite Tourism Initiative in Joburg yesterday, ahead of World Tourism Day today.
The initiative builds on the Lubombo Spatial Development Corridor – a joint development between South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland signed in 1998 between then president Nelson Mandela, Swazi monarch King Mswati III and former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano.
With millions of rands invested in road infrastructure in northern KZN linking the three countries, accessibility has improved.
KZN Tourism MEC Michael Mabuyakhulu said the Tripartite Tourism Initiative aimed to take marketing of the region to the next level to attract more tourists and tourism investment.
One element would be the new “East3Route” tourism route for the Lubombo area, which straddles the three countries.
Mabuyakhulu said this would be similar to the Garden Route, and was aimed at promoting the area’s rich natural beauty and heritage.
To publicise the route, a convoy of about 50 4×4 vehicles would embark on a three-day tour of the three countries starting at Isimangaliso on October 24, heading first to Mozambique and then to Swaziland. In the vehicles would be tourism industry representatives, business people and investors, media and celebrities, said Mabuyakhulu.
Terry Castis, a manager at Isimangaliso, said the initiative could see the Lubombo Corridor’s original vision of tourists being able to see “three countries in a day” come true.
“Besides the infrastructure and new tourism establishments that have gone into the area over the years, malaria has also dropped dramatically. Visa requirements have also been dropped, so travelling between these countries has become easier,” she said.
“There are other developments, such as a UN world heritage site which Mozambique is trying to secure in the north of the country… If they are successful, we could see the creation of a huge marine reserve between Isimangaliso and Mozambique. This could result in the first cross-border marine reserve and world heritage site in the world,” Castis said.
Mozambican and Swazi officials welcomed the project, saying it would strengthen the historical relationship between the three countries.