TOURISM builds social cohesion, creates jobs and allows for the sharing of skills during projects that can be used long after they are complete, leading to the development of local economies.
This was deputy minister of tourism Thoko Xasa’s message during the launch of the Bonkolo Dam family recreational facility on Tuesday.
The tourism department and Lukhanji Municipality collaborated in renovating the site.
She said the facility should be used to unite the people of Chris Hani.
Local culture and heritage had to be used for entertainment and to encourage tourism.
“We want you to grow this place, to make a name for this area.
“You must reflect your economic hub status through these and other projects.
“You must grow the local economy and communities must not solely rely on government handouts, but take part in bettering their lives,” Xasa said.
Tourism could connect with people from other parts of the world, leading to tourists helping struggling communities.
She said a safe environment for tourism must be created and the Bonkolo Dam facility should help to create a tourism route.
“We have potential attractions in our areas and we must work with government to grow the local economy.
“Chiefs must not sell land with potential but work with municipalities to unlock economic potential.”
Xasa said her department would work with the local people to help market tourism projects.
Those employed in projects should be helped to form cooperatives.
“Please keep this dam clean – it should not only be the responsibility of the municipality.
“Community members, take responsibility for your infrastructure,” she said.
Lukhanji executive mayor Nozi Makanda said at one stage it had seemed the day of the launch would never arrive.
Lukhanji should be a destination of choice, she said, adding the municipality was open to investors.
“We want happy families resulting in happy children and a happy nation.
“I also want to challenge event organisers to utilise this facility.”
Makanda said she would like to see a similar project at the Oxkraal Dam in Whittlesea.
“There are trout in Oxkraal Dam and it should be used as a tourist attraction.
“The little we will be asked to pay when we come here is to better this place,” Makanda said.