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Imbabazane Tourism Strategy

Imbabazane Municipality Development Vision:

The Imbabazane Local Municipality strives to achieve a sustainable and competitive environment, which provides opportunities to all residents to grow and prosper.

Tourism Development Vision

The development vision for Imbabazane does not specifically mention tourism development; it is rather narrated as a broad goal by the municipality to create an enabling environment that would promote opportunities for Imbabazane residents to prosper and grow. On the other hand the mission statement (IDP 2006:32) with a set of guiding principles to implement the vision emphasize that Imbabazane should strive to achieve sustainable economic growth and development, achieve a balance between investment in poverty alleviation and strategic investment and ensure that there are efficient institutional arrangements in place for sustainable development which is measured at the social, economics and natural levels.

This fits well for this initiative since tourism is a sunrise sector at a global level, with virtually almost all global nations pursuing tourism development in an attempt to inject economic growth capable of sustaining the ever-increasing population. The IDP extract table on the right indicates that tourism was identified as the third priority under the comprehensive Integrated Development Plan for Imbabazane. It follows the preparation of Local Economic Development and the road development plus maintenance of road infrastructure. The preparation of this Tourism Development Strategy must present windows of opportunities for capitalizing on the sector.

Contextual Framework for Tourism Development

The key criteria relevant to providing the contextual framework for tourism development initiative within Imbabazane area can be discussed as follows: -

  • Tourism product development within the Imbabazane area must initially focus on adding value to existing adjacent tourist attractions, as opposed to the development of isolated new product, which will take time to generate sufficient tourist numbers and possibly weaken tourist numbers to existing attractions. Once a sustainable overall increase in tourist numbers has been established, additional product can then be considered.
  • The existence of the KZN provincial branding of the ‘Kingdom of the Zulu’ and its alignments with Historical and Cultural Heritage of Imbabazane itself. As well as the existence of the region around Imbabazane having been branded as the ‘UKhahlamba – Drakensberg’.
  • The Primary Attraction of the region around Imbabazane is the Drakensberg Mountain, which enticed the tourist to UKhahlamba – Drakensberg as a destination within the provincial context of the ‘Kingdom of the Zulu’. This is determined by the fact that no other single attraction in close proximity to the Drakensberg Mountain can demonstrate similar current volumes of tourists being attracted into the area. It would also appear unlikely that another form of Primary Attraction could be developed as an alternative to the Drakensberg Mountain Destination within the Central Drakensberg and Imbabazane area.
  • Improvement of the quality of product and tourist experience of UKhahlamba – Drakensberg attractions is essential if tourist numbers are to be increased.
  • Diversity of product apart from just the nature based tourism concept with the scenic mountains and cosy accommodation (which is currently the case in Central Drakensberg) is required if tourist numbers are to be increased.
  • More authenticity is required from the ‘Zulu’ perspective of their heritage and culture in terms of tourist attractions within Imbabazane in UKhahlamba – Drakensberg Destination.
  • More Tourist Facilities are required in order to attract more tourists and for them to be attracted to stay longer in the Imbabazane (UKhahlamba – Drakensberg) Destination and generate an increase in tourism revenue.
  • Perceptions of personal safety and health issues are a significant detriment to attracting tourists into the UKhahlamba – Drakensberg Destination.

Based upon the above contextual framework criteria, the following recommendations are provided for tourism development initiative within the Imbabazane area:

  • That Imbabazane positions itself as being part of the Central Drakensberg Destination (UKhahlamba – Drakensberg) with the provincial branding of the ‘The Kingdom of the Zulu’, and a sub – branding (UThukela District) of the “Soul of the Zulu Kingdom” and establishes a function within the Local Municipality with responsibility for all aspects of management and facilitation of the training, development and marketing associated with being part of the UKhahlamba – Drakensberg Destination.
  • Imbabazane Local Municipality to create the necessary linkages with key stakeholders, such as Amafa; TKZN; the Kamberg Tourism Association; etc in order to play a pivotal role in the further establishment and development of proposed tourism product at KwaHlubi and other areas in Imbabazane. As well as actively supporting product development outside of its area of jurisdiction, such as Drakensberg. The latter will all contribute to increasing the number of tourists into the area as well as potentially increasing their length of stay. In particular, the importance of the Drakensberg as the Primary Tourist Attraction of the area, should be given due cognisance.
  • The opportunity to develop a propose UMtshezi – Imbabazane tourist route linking all of the above tourist attractions would be beneficial to the area as a whole, in terms of opening up a ‘tourism circuit’ as a catalyst for future product development.
    Infrastructure accessibility, including signage will be an essential function to be facilitated by Imbabazane Local Municipality within their area of jurisdiction.
  • Two ‘Tourism Information Centres’ should be provided as an orientation and interpretive centre for tourists visiting the area, but more particularly, include a refreshment (toilets, food and beverages) stopover; a local tour guide centre; a craft outlet; accommodation reservations; etc. These facilities should be located in two strategic areas, which are in Loskop and in Hlubi Tribal Authority (adjacent to Langalibalele Craft Centre). The objective would be to maximise the tourism revenue. It would be even more advantageous if Loskop can establish a petrol station and this centre would be located next to it in order to enhance the number of visitors.
  • Through the research undertaken for this study, the area also has a significant amount of potential Scenic and Natural tourist attractions. Further research on these sites and the accessibility issues associated with getting tourists to them, needs to be undertaken as one of the main projects for tourism local economic development, including linkage into the development of a tourism route through the area. Particular sites and facilities are identified as follows:
    • Lutheran Mission
    • Rail tourism (from Pietemaritzburg to Imbabazane)
    • Bushman Paintings
    • Inkosi Langalibalele’s Grave
    • There is an annual event (called ‘umgubho’) that is held in KwaHlubi Tribal Authority, which includes the visit to Langalibalele’s Grave Site, and this can also play a role around the anniversaries of the historic sites associated with the cultural and heritage tourism practices of the area.

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