With a great holiday season behind us and the New Year ahead I have decided to make Heritage tourism and the mismanagement of heritage sites specifically one of my focus areas in 2015.
The mismanagement of Vredefort Dome located in Parys in the Free State, given its significance in our nation and how visitors to our country and domestic tourists perceive it, gives rise to serious concern.
I will write to the Minister of Tourism, Derek Hannekom, requesting that he immediately attend to the issues facing the Vredefort Dome and further compile a report on the state of all heritage sites and present it to the Portfolio Committee on Tourism at the earliest opportunity.
According to a Business Day live report this week the below as issues require urgent attention:
The visitor’s information centre, inaugurated with much fanfare in August 2008 never opened its doors, as it has begun to collapse prior to admitting the first visitor.
The roads around the dome are poorly maintained so visitors find it difficult to navigate.
Exhibits inside the building are being damaged by the elements as all the windows are smashed. There is no other facility in the area where visitors can get information about the importance of the dome.
It is important that all heritage sites are properly managed. I have received various submissions from tourism associations on this issue and will thus write to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee requesting urgent interventions.
Unesco, declared the dome a World Heritage Site in 2005, and promised it would be protected by the international heritage convention after it was proclaimed by the government and given legal protection.
This proclamation has not been enforced stringently enough of late.
If government fails to manage our Heritage attractions sufficiently we run the great risk of losing international visitor interest in our rich and diverse history. If tourism numbers dwindle and the sector suffers that will directly impact on our economy and kill thousands of jobs.
For every 12 international tourists that visit our shores, one full-time sustainable job is created. Government needs to awaken to this fact and take aantage of it.
Our heritage celebrates our achievements and contributes to redressing past inequalities. It educates and it deepens our understanding of society while at the same time it encourages us to empathize with the experience of others.
The time has come for our heritage sites to be treated with the respect and deference that they deserve which will in turn lead to a robust economy and job growth.
Shadow Minister of Tourism
Source : Democratic Alliance