OVERVIEW its potential for growth and for job creation were short-circuited by the Covid-19 pandemic, the fact remains that the sector can grow quickly and it is a good job creator. Growing Gauteng Together (GGT2030) is a plan of action formulated by the Gauteng Provincial Government which intends to transform, modernise and industrialise the provincial economy. The expansion of the tourism sector is seen as one of the key methods of achieving those goals. This was emphasised when the 2020 State of the Province Address included Tourism and Hospitality as one of 10 “high-growth” sectors. In June 2020, as part of preparation for the reopening of the sector, the Gauteng Tourism Authority (GTA) launched its first webinar in a four-part series of targeted engagements. It was agreed that local tourism would have to take up the slack that occurred with the collapse of international arrivals and that safety protocols were vital to restoring confidence. Virtual tours have been taken up by heritage operators such as Constitution Hill and Liliesleaf Farm and this option is likely to grow as people in other countries seek out a South African experience free from any worries. Founder and CEO of the heritage site honouring the South African liberation movement, Nicholas Wolpe, said, “There are now over 1 400 hours of archive material that we will be taking online and through virtual tours and information banks that can be accessed off-site.” The CEO of Emerald Resorts, Mark Hands, commented, “We are repackaging our strategy for visitors to include more digital offerings as we will have to limit physical numbers as social distancing may well be with us into 2022 to manage infections brought about by large groups of people.” A strong theme at the webinar was solidarity. “We have to adapt to the new normal even as it is unknown at the moment,” said Fezile Ngqobe, acting CEO for GTA. “What we do know is that as a sector, we are all in this together.” The Legacy Group was one of the first to introduce apartments to the hotel development mix in South Africa when it added the Davinci Hotel on Nelson Mandela Square to its portfolio just before South Africa hosted the soccer World Cup in 2010. The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic may lead to this trend growing within other hotel groups. The Legacy collection includes the Michelangelo Hotel and Michelangelo Towers. The Davinci was designed with 166 hotel
ONLINE RESOURCES Cradle of Humankind: www.maropeng.co.za Gauteng Tourism Authority: www.gauteng.net Johannesburg Tourism Company: www.joburgtourism.com
rooms, 54 apartments in the upper reaches, with a further four luxurious penthouses above that.
Culture and history Heritage tourism is a strong component of the tourism offering in Gauteng. The Cradle of Humankind is a U N E S CO Wo r l d H e r i t a g e Site and attracts thousands of visitors every year to the interactive visitor’s centre at Maropeng. The Sterkfontein Caves have ex traordinar y displays, showing the origins of humanity through artefacts such as the 2.1-million-yearold skull known as Mrs Ples. The Origins Centre at the University of the Witwatersrand provides insights into the origins of mankind through art and science. The Centre hosts superb representations of Khoi and San rock art. Histor y relating to the struggle against apartheid centres on attractions such as the moving exhibitions housed at the Apar theid Museum and the history of the battle for human rights and democracy embodied in Constitution Hill. Kliptown in Soweto is the site of the signing of the Freedom Charter. Another site where South Africa’s history is on display is at Freedom Park, a sprawling complex of museums, open spaces and memorials on a hillside overlooking Pretoria in Tshwane. ■ GAUTENG BUSINESS 2020/21