The exponential growth of destinations worldwide that have opened up to, and invested in tourism, has transformed this sector into a key driver of socio-economic progress through the creation of jobs and enterprises, export revenues, and infrastructure development.
Cognisant of this, the KwaZulu Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs in 2012 developed the Tourism Master Plan (KZNTMP). The KZNTMP is a strategic document that serves as a blueprint for the future trajectory in the development and growth of tourism in the Province of KwaZulu Natal. This document identified seven iconic tourism projects to be developed across the province, one of which is the Drakensberg Cable Car. The Drakensberg Cable Car is envisaged to unlock the tourism potential of UKhahlamba – Drakensberg region and further enhance the competitiveness of the Province through new product offerings.
The cable car will yield great economic spin-offs not only for Okhahlamba area but for the Province of KwaZulu-Natal as a whole; hence the Department has planned to host the Drakensberg Cable Car Investment Conference and Exhibition. This conference is geared towards finding linkages that enhance economic growth through such a development. The conference will seek to:
- Create a platform for international cable car operators to share their experiences,
- Open a platform to engage with potential investors,
- Share environmental issues that can affect the development of the cable car,
- Investigate potential markets that can be tapped into,
- Explore new activities that could be undertaken in the area,
- Explore various manufacturing options for benchmarking purposes in order to obtain different intricacies of cable car concept, gain strategic direction and best practice,
- Provide a platform for networking and establishment of business linkages amongst key business and government decision makers (both from within and outside the borders of South Africa),
- Promote innovation and increased competitiveness in key sectors of the economy,
- Share lessons on successes and failures of such projects in the world.
Through the Cable Car Conference, we hope to get better understanding of environmental issues and mitigating factors that can influence the development of the cable car and best model to be utilized in development, management and operation of this project.
The Conference will feature international speakers and participants who have vast experience in developing, funding and managing similar Cable Cars at a global level.
It will thus afford us an opportunity to use international best practice as a constant reference point as we embark upon our proposed cable car project within the Drakensberg-uKhahlamba-Maloti Mountains. Local stakeholders will also be invited to participate and share their knowledge and expectations of the area, in order that a robust discussion with a solution driven approach can take place.
Key issues regarding the Cable Car Project that will form a part of the high level conference discussions are:
- Impacts of Tourism on a countries Economy and the region;
- Economic Growth strategies;
- Evaluating and discussion regarding different Cable Car Funding models; and
- Environmental approach and important considerations.
It is anticipated that this conference will enable the Cable Car project to move forward in the positive light that it was always intended. Ultimately enabling everyone to have access, view and enjoy the beautiful Drakensberg-uKhahlamba-Maloti mountains in all its splendour.