TOURISTS expected to descend on KwaZulu-Natal during and after the World Cup in June will get "red carpettreatment".
A programme launched yesterday, "tourist buddies", will be rolled out throughout the province. Volunteers and people already working in the hospitality industry will undergo thorough training and R1,5million has been set aside for the programme.
MEC for economic development and tourism Mike Mabuyakhulu said they were targeting 15000 people to be trained.
"For starters, we will train 1500 people. We will be taking people already in the employ of the hospitality industry but we will also train volunteers from the rural areas," he said.
"Those receiving training are staff in hotels, food outlets, restaurants, garages, car guards and any industry dealing with people," Mabuyakhulu said.
"KwaZulu-Natal is the net attractor of domestic tourism. Our province also attracts 1,3million inbound tourists.
"But, we believe we still have to realise our full tourism potential.
"The stark reality is that, given the intense competition from other provinces and other countries, we need to up our game in order to increase our tourism share.
"We believe we still have to realise our full tourism potential.
The buddies will be expected to provide a friendly and personal tourism information service to all visitors.
They will be expected to foster the spirit of unconditional, collective hospitality in KZN by improving the service standard.
Warren Ozard, operations manager at Fedhasa, said they were excited about the programme and would work with the department to ensure that it became a success.