Siphofaneni: Siphofaneni Inkhundla Member of Parliament, Mduduzi ‘Magawugawu’ Simelane, has strongly called for government to improve rural road infrastructure to stimulate domestic tourism.
MP Simelane was speaking at Wendy’s Lodge, Siphofaneni during the celebration of the World Tourism Day, an event that was organized by Eswatini Tourism Authority (ETA), the Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs in partnership with the United Nation Development Programme.
Simelane made this remarks in his capacity as a Member of Parliament of the area in the presence of dignitaries which included the Minister of Tourism Moses Vilakati, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Shaima Hussein , Hotels Association of Eswatini (HOTEAS), community leaders as well as other representatives from rural tourism establishments.
The lawmaker said if government was serious about stimulating domestic tourism, there was a huge need to work on the roads. He said government needs, not even to put tarred roads, but only, through the ministry of public works should always ensure that roads going through the tourism establishments are well maintained.
“The theme of this year’s World Tourism Day states that tourism should stimulate development in rural communities hence road infrastructure is key to connecting tourism establishments and tourists. We are not asking government to construct tare roads but we ask that government should consider re-gravelling the roads especially those leading to the tourism establishments.” Simelane said.
‘Magawugawu’ raised concerns from owners of the tourism establishments in the Lubombo region. He singled out concerns raised by Shewula Mountain Camp representatives who reiterated the issue of the bad roads, saying that it makes it difficult for tourist to access their place. Shewula Mountain Camp and Nsangwini Roack Art,both complained on the poor roads which makes it difficult for tourists to make it to their places.
Other tourism establishments which had earlier been reported to have bad roads include Bulembu, Phophonyane Eco Lodge, Mahamba George amongst others. In these places there has been an outcry that tourists’ buses and cars are damaged by the bad roads which then makes tourists to turn back dejected and not to return to the places again.
Simelane noted that government has always been focusing on the Mbabane – Manzini corridor for tourism development, but now the shift he said, ‘should focus on developing rural arrears’. He tasked the Minister of Tourism to speak to Cabinet more especially the Minister for Public Works and Transport Chief Ndlaluhlaza Ndwandwe to prioritize the re-gravelling and maintenance of roads leading to tourism establishments in the country.
Minister of Tourism Moses Vilakati said a proposal plan has been presented to Cabinet which details all roads that needs attention. Vilakati said he was pleased with the plan because there are roads leading to the tourism establishments.
The World Tourism Day is commemorated each year on September 27. Since 1980, the United Nations World Tourism Organization has celebrated World Tourism Day as international observances on September 27. The purpose is to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. Eswatini celebrated the world Tourism day on September 30 and the theme was Tourism and Rural Development.