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Cape Town - The City of Ekurhuleni's Executive Mayor, Mzwandile Masina, has expressed plans for the development of SA's largest airport hub OR Tambo International Airport, as well as the city of Johannesburg.
Speaking at the Local Government Tourism Conference (LGTC) in Gauteng, Masina says the City will be rolling out an "aggressive marketing and promotional campaign aimed at positioning the Ekurhuleni as a preferred destination to Live, Play and Invest."
Plans include the upping of the City's service and tourism sectors through various structural and skill developing initiatives, mainly revolving around Joburg's OR Tambo International Airport hub.
According to Masina, tourists should be enticed to have a memorable experience in Joburg as soon as they set foot off their aircraft. Therefore, he says, "a major focus should and will be on improving the quality of services offered in some of these establishments."
To take this experience beyond OR Tambo, the City will also "be embarking on a targeted service excellence programme in partnership with all major hotels located in Ekurhuleni, in order to inculcate a culture of service excellence within the tourism value chain."
Apart from the enormous infrastructure and human resource investment currently taking place at OR Tambo, Masina says an injection in tourism facilities at "Africa’s first Aerotropolis" are also crucial.
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OR Tambo area expansions
One of the major new developments will also be the erection of a 9-metre-high bronze sculpture commemorating the late Oliver Reginald Tambo, in line with the mayor's vision of seeing more of SA's struggle icon history incorporated in Joburg's tourism hubs.
Around 19 million passengers land at the OR International Airport annually, which makes the region is a strategic entry point for tourists and investors. It's this strategic advantage which Masina says the City of Ekurhuleni should tap into to enhance the image of SA for tourists from the onset.
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"Plans are advanced to set up a State of the Art Ekurhuleni Visitor Information Centre at the OR Tambo International Airport, which will serve as a welcome platform to tourists, as well as provide much-needed information on Ekurhuleni and its attractions, as well as improve tourism safety," Masina says.
This facility will be operational by the beginning of the next financial year.
In line with the OR Tambo Centenary Celebrations, in partnership with the National Department of Tourism and the OR Tambo Foundation, the City will also be rolling out a number of OR Tambo commemorative programmes and events.
Most prominent will be the 9m Bronze Statue of OR Tambo which will be constructed and installed at the OR Tambo International Airport in October 2017 - "a fitting tribute and recognition of this great struggle icon," Masina says.
The OR Tambo Narrative Centre Precinct will also be further developed, Masina says, "to include the establishment of the OR Tambo Library and Knowledge Centre. The narrative centre will give us access to an array of documents not previously available in South Africa and housed in other cities, such as the Soncini Archive in the Panizzi Library dealing with OR Tambo and the Liberation Struggle in Southern Africa."
Icons incorporated into Joburg's tourism offering
Further to the incorporation of SA's struggle iconic into our tourism offering, many other tourism offerings reflecting on the lives of SA's freedom fighters will be commissioned.
According to Masina, "an aggressive investment will be channelled towards the development of catalytic and labour intensive infrastructure, linked to these struggle icons of the revolution.
"The City has a rich history linked to our political struggle icons," he says, "such as the late Oliver Reginald Tambo, Chris Hani, Sam Ntuli and Mam Bertha Gxowa, amongst others."
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Plans are already underway for a Chris Hani commemorative tourism site, which Masina confirming that the City has also acquired the home of the late Chris Hani and plans to develop it into a fully- fledged museum where his memorabilia will be exhibited. On 24 March this year, the South African Heritage and Resources Agency also declared the grave of the late Chris Hani a memorial site, together with a walk of remembrance.
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