Small towns should prepare for 2010 visitors too

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Port Elizabeth - Small towns and cities in South Africa have been urged to gear up appropriately for thousands of domestic and international tourists during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

According to Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, small towns generally attract thousands of visitors.

"Tourists love barely visible places and in this regard, small cities stand a great chance of having many visitors during the renowned world sporting spectacle," said the minister, speaking to BuaNews.

He said town and cities which have great facilities would especially fascinate visitors in 2010.

Another attraction for visitors was that small cities offered more affordable accommodation, something that visitors would look for under the current global economic meltdown.

The minister said government was willing to work with small towns to promote tourism to ensure they received a slice of the economic pie during the major international event.

He further encouraged the business sector in small host cities such as Polokwane, Rustenburg, Nelspruit, Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth to form strong partnerships with government with a vision of promoting tourism and marketing these cities.

"This event will come and go and therefore the small cities need to sustain the number of domestic and international arrivals. The only way to do this is for public and private sectors to invest in the invisible cities," Minister van Schalkwyk said.

He said his department was investing more than R50 billion to develop and improve tourism in South Africa. "As government, we are not only investing in 2010 but also in improving the country's infrastructure," said the minister.

South Africa expects to receive more than 450 000 visitors between the period of June and July next year.

Minister van Schalkwyk on Thursday launched three Visitor Information Centres in Nelson Mandela Bay to create easy access and awareness of tourism related facilities and attractions within the city.

More visitor information hubs are to be established in Polokwane, Rustenburg, Nelspruit and Bloemfontein.