Executive Mayor of MDM, Cllr. Joshua Matlou Local Mayor Cllr Sono Mayors and councilors of Local Municipalities in the district Members of the LTA Board present All Traditional Leaders present
Acting HOD of Limpopo Economic Development, Environment and Tourism, Mr Kgopong CEO of LTA, Mr Nocks Seabi Representative of the Department of Sports and Culture All members of the Local Organising Committee The Managing Director of Ziyaphenduka Protions, Mr Bruce Kgapane Representatives of the partners Members of the media present Ladies and gentlemen
It gives me great pleasure to be part of this very auspicious event in this important town of our province for the launch of 2013 Limpopo Marula Festival.
I must indicate that we will continue to support heritage events like this as part of our tradition to encourage people to respect it as it instills discipline that no one else should taste the first fruit before the traditional leadership does so.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am optimistic that we will, as a province, deliver a very successful event given the more improved partnership among key stakeholders. The 2013 festival is billed to be even bigger to exceed the 30 000 number of people that attended the same event last year. To us this is a major achievement realising that the inaugural Limpopo Marula Festival seven years ago attracted a mere 500 people.
In 2007, joint partnership declaration was signed by Ba-Phalaborwa Municipality, DSAC, LEDET and the Ba-Phalaborwa tourism industry.
At the time LEDET through, LTA made a purposeful economic contribution by participating in the Limpopo Marula Festival with the intention to transform the festival into a viable business industry within the province. The purpose was to take advantage of the vast concentration of Marula trees found mostly in the sub-tropical parts of the province.
I must indicate that various strategic partners have been identified for partnership in hosting various activities for the past five years.
The town of Phalaborwa, because of its tourism profile and close proximity to other major tourism destinations including the world’s renowned Kruger National Park incorporated within the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park, was declared a permanent home of annual Marula festival.
We were correct to have chosen Phalaborwa as a permanent home of Limpopo Marula Festival as the town is very important to us given its well-developed infrastructure, a top class airport and golf course, a wide variety of tourists’ accommodation, tourism products and numerous game lodges in close proximity.
We will continue to use the festival as a draw card to increase domestic, regional and international tourist flow to the province. We vow to continue supporting and promoting the festival to grow tourism in this town thus also growing the economy of the province.
Ladies and gentlemen you will realise that one of my department’s mandate is ensure that there is economic development among our people and I must ensure that this festival contributes towards economic betterment of our people.
We need to develop a festival package to be enjoyed by all age groups as a collective experience (i.e. blend the festival with other activities other than the Marula beverage). We should through this festival also facilitate development of viable economic opportunities for the people of the Province through the Marula fruit harvest and processing of the Marula by-products.
This provides us with the opportunity to enhance awareness and usage of Marula fruit amongst domestic consumers and business community. To this extend, we have created strong partnerships between the beverage brewers, hospitality industry and corporate companies to enhance marketability of the Marula products.
We have to date created a platform for development of sustainable businesses out of Marula with more than 9 Mukumbi Cooperatives being established.