by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG – LIMPOPO’S location as South Africa’s northernmost province, sharing borders with Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, makes it the ideal starting point for leisure travellers looking to create a regional Southern African itinerary.
Some 17 percent of international tourist arrivals to South Africa make their way to Limpopo, making it a key player in the national economy.
In addition, it attracts more domestic travellers than any other province, underlining its importance that is boosted by its status the citrus capital of South Africa and its wealth in platinum group metals and diamonds.
Tourism makes up 5 percent of the province’s economy.
Limpopo has augmented its tourism marketing campaign, with a new brand logo, an improved website and the hash tag in #UnlikeAnyOther.
“We have lots of hidden treasures based on our six tourism clusters,” Moses Ngobeni, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Limpopo Tourism Agency (LTA), said.
The clusters are culture and heritage, business and events, special interest, family and recreation, safari and hunting, and sports and wildlife.
“You (visitor) have a choice of one of many magnificent boutique products,” Ngobeni said.
“We can host medium-sized meetings in the bush with game drives, and we have wedding venues that are compared to no other.”
LTA has positioned itself as a sports, wildlife and industry hub at the ongoing Expo 2020 in Dubai.
This is in an effort to attract a good mix of leisure and business travellers.
Limpopo has blended golf and wildlife in a bid to offer an exclusive experience.
“We have got unique golf courses where you got wildlife. Hence our golf courses are managed under the golf and game concept,” Ngobeni said.
The province also hosts the annual Tour de Limpopo, a multi-day road stage race.
It is a globally recognised cycling event, forming part of the International Cycling Union Africa Tour and taking cyclists through some of the province’s most iconic sites.
Limpopo is also creating a home for extreme sports in the old mining town of Thabazimbi in Waterberg.
An international event is scheduled for in September 2022.
International tourists are attracted to the Bela-Bela nature conservation area in the Waterberg region, the remains of the tenth century city of Mapungubwe and Kruger National Park, which Limpopo shares with Mpumalanga province.
Of its above-mentioned clusters, Limpopo’s wildlife remains the draw card for foreign visitors.
Other iconic attractions include the Blouberg mountains and Makgabeng Plateau, with ancient rock art. The fossil-rich caves of Makapansgat are also an attraction as well as the Arend Dieperink Museum near the provincial capital, Polokwane.
While Polokwane is the capital, other historic towns in the province are Bela-Bela, Giyani, Makhado, Phalaborwa, Thabazimbi, Thohoyandou, Tzaneen, Zebediela and Zion City Moria.
The province has excellent road and air links.
The N1 route from Johannesburg, which extends the length of the province, is the busiest overland route in Africa in terms of cross-border trade in raw materials and beneficiated goods.
The Polokwane International Airport was opened in 1996.
– CAJ News