Tourism the solution to the accelerated development of the Vaal Triangle region - Dr Danie Meyer
According to Dr Danie Meyer, lecturer within the School of Economic Sciences on the Vaal Triangle Campus of the North-West University (NWU Vaal) and a specialist within the field of Local Economic Development (LED), tourism can play an important role in the revitalisation of the regional economy of the Vaal Triangle.
The World Bank stated in 2014 that growth in the manufacturing sector of a region is the foundation for growth of a local enonomy through job creation and exports. In the Emfuleni municipal area, the role of tourism in the local economy has grown from 3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2000 to 7,7% in 2013. The contribution of manufacturing has decreased from 28% to 19% over the same period.
As many as 46 000 bona fide holiday/leisure tourist trips and 58 000 business tourist trips were recorded to the Emfuleni area in 2013. A total of R2 600 million was spent on all tourism activities in 2013 in the region. "The Vaal region has many attributes required for successful tourism development. It has natural resources and beauty in the Vaal River and the Vaal Dam, which are iconic features on a global scale," explains Meyer. Other major attributes are the two universities - namely Vaal University of Technology (VUT) and the Vaal Triangle Campus of the North-West University, with more than 40 000 students also play an important role since these students are, according to Meyer, " mostly tourists" in the region. This together with the possibility of industrial tourism with historical industries such as ArcelorMittal and Sasol and a very strong and committed business chamber positions the region as an ideal tourist destination.
"Also, we enjoy an excellent climate, relative good infrastructure, and well developed amenities such as international standard hotels and guesthouses, restaurants, shopping centres, sport facilities and entertainment venues," says Meyer and adds that the Vaal Triangle is well located in close proximity of the economic hub of Africa with its more than 10 million residents and located just 50 minutes from the OR Thambo International Airport.
More than 9.5 million tourists visited South Africa during 2014, with only less than 1% of these tourists visiting the region. Meyer explains that tourism has many benefits for a local economy and therefore it is of cardinal importance that "a considerable effort" is made to attract more tourists to the Vaal region. Such benefits include:
- increased job creation - especially for less skilled people,
- the vesting of an entrepreneurial viable business climate,
- increased domestic spending,
- assisting in the diversification of the local economy, and
- contributes towards the alleviation of poverty.
"Tourism is the largest and fastest growing industry in the world and we need to tap into the global market. For accelerated success we need political stability, infrastructure development investment and an improved coordination of all local partners and stakeholders," says Meyer. According to him, tourism remains one of the key strategies of the new Emfuleni Local Economic Development (LED) strategy. Detailed projects on how to achieve rapid tourism development will be finalised in the next few months with local partners in the industry. Also, the next LED symposium - as part of the Vaal LED Forum, will be held on 9 July 2015 at the NWU Vaal. For more information contact Dr Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org
|Dr Danie Meyer|