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Eastern Cape a sleeping tourism giant for SA

Tsitsikamma national park, Indian ocean waves and mist. South Africa, Garden Route, Eastern Cape.
Tsitsikamma national park, Indian ocean waves and mist. South Africa, Garden Route, Eastern Cape.
Image: 123RF/Daniele Codegoni

I consider myself an unofficial tourism ambassador for South Africa. I love the whole country and I take time to travel and explore many places I've never been to before.

The Transkei Wild Coast remains closest to my heart because that's where I was born. Even there, I still discover new places that take your breath away because of its natural beauty.

During this past festive season I visited Mpumalanga's Lowveld. The state of the R36 between Lydenburg and Machadodorp is beyond shocking. We took it, thinking it was the shortest route to the N4 - something that turned out to be a mistake. I also visited Coffee Bay, Presley's Bay on the Ngqeleni coast and Mngazi River Mouth in Port St Johns.

Sadly, there's a common problem. Roads are shocking. The road to Mngazi is tarred in patches, gravel and potholes.

Presley's Bay is a typical Wild Coast beach that has gravel road all the way. Forget what racist naysayers are saying about foreign tourists shunning SA. I met people who speak languages I have no idea what they are.

People are realising that the world is a violent place. All you need as a tourist is common sense. Most of our tourist attractions where there are people are relatively safe.

The Eastern Cape in particular is a sleeping tourism giant. If most roads to beaches can be tarred and bulk water supplied, locals would make a decent living. The government needs to play its role in improving infrastructure.

Tourist boards and the government need to communicate more. It doesn't help to promote places which aren't easily accessible. We need to wake up and learn from countries where tourism is the top earner of foreign currency.

Richardson Mzaidume


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