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  an impartial, credible non-profit association, which enables it to negotiate contracts and secure funding for projects that benefit its community;

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News:


Impetus for regional development

 

27 October 2010 - Barberton Times

The Barberton region can look forward to an innovative new tourism development programme focused on positioning the area as a diversified destination. This follows on the phenomenal success of the tarring of the R40 between Barberton and the Swaziland border. The improvement to this scenic road is already influencing tourism flow in the area and there are great plans to develop it even further.

According to Nico Oosthuizen, Barberton Chamber of Business, the implementing phase of a four-year regional tourism development programme commenced on September 1 with the appointment of two full-time staff to drive the process further. It is called the Barberton Tourism and Biodiversity Corridor Programme (Batobic), and is being implemented by the Barberton Chamber of Business in association with the National Department of Tourism (NDT).

“The objective of the programme is to develop sustainable, nature based, adventure and cultural tourism in what is termed the Tourism and Biodiversity Corridor (TBC) area. This area stretches from Kaapmuiden in the east through Barberton to Badplaas in the west,” he said. 

Furthermore, it is part of a long-term vision and integrated plan to unlock the potential of the area and position it as a diversified tourism destination. The programme has its origins in the various national, provincial and local planning studies that have been conducted in the area over the last few years. These studies have consistently identified the area as having large, undeveloped tourism potential. The TBC area is home to many iconic attractions and a future World Heritage Site that deserves proper development and marketing in order to enhance tourism flows to the area which will translate into local economic development.

Seven initial tourism projects have already been identified and these have been funded by NDT. To this will be added further projects which will be identified from the development strategy.

The already identified projects are: 
1. The development of the Bulembu Road Geology Trail

The development and packaging of the R40 road from Barberton to the Josefsdal border post with Swaziland as a user-friendly tourist attraction will make it a prime attraction for tourists. The aim is to interpret the geology, biodiversity, scenery, cultural and historical attractions along the road. It will entail the construction of scenic lookouts, visitor facilities, lay-byes, interpretative signage and comprehensive information material. Security for tourists and maintenance services along the trail form part of the considerations.


2.  Route development and marketing
This project aims to develop tourism audits of all the attractions and features in the TBC area. This in turn will be used for route planning and related tourist signage and information along the main routes. The objective of the project is to make existing and new tourism attractions along the routes more accessible and to package these in a tourist-friendly way.

3. Signposting and beautification of two main Umjindi access intersections
Barberton’s main entrances will be upgraded. Attractive and informative features and signage structures will be created at the two main gateway intersections on the R40. Commercially sustainable tourism signage and branded-route road development projects as well sustainable facilities will be linked to these points as nodal information dissemination points.

4. Cultural heritage town enhancement project
The objective of this project is to preserve, maintain and enhance the cultural and historical heritage and aesthetic quality of Barberton as a tourism destination. The project entails planning and implementing a program to maintain and enhance the physical attractions for visitors and residents. It will showcase the town’s natural and historical features such as its attractive setting, open spaces and historic buildings, attractions and events. It will include an activation and incentives program structured with the Umjindi Local Municipality for private property and site owners to revitalize and maintain such heritage assets. It will also seek funds for and implement such measures on publicly owned land by way of example to show how the town can be enhanced.

5. Lomshiyo Community Trust lodge development
The Lomshiyo community residing at Louisville will benefit with a project aimed at facilitating the development of a commercial game lodge and related infrastructure on their land in the Mountainlands Nature Reserve. The project will also provide support for concessions at the facility through an investor mobilisation process. This project will assist in bringing viability to the land which the Lomshiyo community bought in 1996 as part of government’s land redistribution programme.


6. Development of a Visitor information Centre as first phase of an interpretation centre for the World Heritage Site. As part of a plan to present the unique attractions of the area, a visitor information centre will be constructed and the planning for the larger World Heritage Site interpretation centre will be completed. It will serve as a multifocal facility with an information, interpretative and display function, also including offices to house the personnel to implement all the necessary activities for a fully functional visitor service for the area.

7. Creation of the BATOBIC Programmet Management Unit (PMU)
In order for the development programme to be successful over the long term, significant support in terms of planning, marketing, management and mobilization of grant and investment funds are required. The key roles and responsibilities of the PMU is to implement the Tourism and Biodiversity Corridor Strategy. The unit will thus be responsible to identify and facilitate anchor investment and infrastructure projects, including investor mobilisation and to seek further funding of the projects identified from the strategy. The area has seen the creation of several regional strategies over the years. The implementation of these strategies has been hampered by lack of capacity and resources. The creation of the PMU addresses this problem through a dedicated capacity to drive all projects. The PMU office is situated in Barberton and was opened on September 1 of this year. The first steps are to ensure that the previous strategies are still relevant and to implement the already funded projects explained earlier. Further projects will then be identified from the strategy and these will be implemented.

For further information contact Godfrey Mogoane, Batobic programme manager, at godfrey@barberton.co.za  

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