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What does the future hold for tourism in the Waterberg?

In the words of many tourism is dead in the water right now. With Covid-19 most trips and holidays have had to be cancelled. Many lodges and activities have reduced staff and adopted a “care and maintenance” strategy merely to survive! The future will not be the same as the past. Things will change. Those who can adapt to change will emerge even stronger because there will always be a need for people to travel and visit.

The popular view is that local tourism will be the first to revive. People are tired of being restricted to their homes and many have “Cabin fever”. At the same time, they do not necessarily have the same money for discretionary spend. The Waterberg offers an attractive alternative to getting away. It is only 2 hours from Gauteng and in a relatively free Malaria area. The weather at this time of the year is unbeatable!

Lodges who can see their way clear to adapting to the local market and adjusting their prices and offerings will be the ones to survive.

Conservation hunting is another extremely popular source of visits to the Waterberg. Many fathers and sons are dying to get out into the bush as are groups of friends. We have already had many enquiries from visitors as to where they may be able to hunt (for leisure and under level 3 regulations). Please let us know if you have hunting facilities available.

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Birds of the Waterberg

The Tourism industry has been hardest hit by the lockdown, and Waterberg in particular has lost over 2m local visitors spending over R2 billion pa, as well as over 2 million foreign tourists spending over R5 billion pa.

We invite you to a series of FREE information videos, featuring top speakers and top tourist treasures which are what attracts tourists and will do so again once lockdowns are a thing of the past
The first video is by the well-known conservationist, Dr. Warwick Tarboton, and his topic is “Birds of the Waterberg”

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How Can Waterberg Tourism Help You?

Waterberg Tourism is completely non-profit, seeking only to serve its members by competitively marketing the Waterberg area as an outstanding tourism destination, to local and international tourists.  While these are dark days and times are difficult, like it or not we are still dependent on tourism.

Waterberg Tourism was started by the local community and is managed for the benefit of the community by community members.  It will enhance the economic prosperity of the area and allow members to benefit from marketing that gives them easier access to economic value created by tourism developments in the area.

It is the vision of Waterberg Tourism that by marketing tourism to the area, we will be investing in the economic and environmental future of the area.  Competitively marketing the Waterberg will help establish sustainable economic development, create more jobs, resulting in improved training and capacity building, and thus leading to a stable, and vibrant local economy.  By marketing the area as a tourism destination, Waterberg Tourism will also be working towards conservation efforts of our precious natural resources by contributing to their viability and increased public awareness.
Because tourism is dependent on support functions there is much work going on behind the scenes to improve the appearance of the Waterberg by working with the authorities, community members as well as specialists in waste removal, better signage and making it a safer area for all.  We are all too aware of our shortcomings and with your help aim to make the Waterberg leading tourist destination in South Africa!

To help tourism in the Waterberg:

Share Waterberg Tourism’s Facebook and Instagram posts, as well as our website and member details with as many people as possible
Attend and support Waterberg Tourism’s online webinars, videos, meetings, and training programs whenever you can. Just showing up to a meeting can do a lot to encourage other people to support our initiatives!
If you can join up as a member, do so. If you can donate any funds, your time, or services, please do!
Support our local businesses as far as you possibly can by buying local products, ordering food from local restaurants, and using the recreational and accommodation facilities in the Waterberg
Explore the Waterberg – you would be surprised what is in your backyard!
Tell everyone what you find in the Waterberg that is beautiful and enticing on your social media pages and when you speak to people one-on-one
Keep up a positive attitude – things are very tough for all of us, but by supporting and encouraging one another in a positive manner, we can build our community’s fighting spirit and keep going!

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Should We Rely on Government?

Sadly, we have reached the stage in South Africa where we are heavily reliant on the government to support and fund us with so many aspects of our lives.  Gone are the days when people had to earn what they needed and had to work hard to get what they wanted.

Our history in the Waterberg has taught us that “communities cannot and must not be lulled into reliance on politicians, political parties or formal governmental departments for the provision of many of the services we need.  We must be prepared to roll up our sleeves, find the money, make the time and get down to work ourselves.  In the past communities that worked together to fund, build or manage facilities also built a community spirit, a spirit that occasionally transcended divisions of gender, race or creed. If the Waterberg community is ever to prosper more opportunities for broad community cooperation must be sought and pursued.

We must be prepared to break new ground in forging new alliances with former adversaries, now current neighbours, to build new community projects together for our mutual benefit.  We must relegate our differing ethnicities, religious and political affiliations, genders and languages to a subordinate status whilst celebrating the variety and depth they can add to our national culture.”

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Stand Together – Staan Saam – by Ken Maud

Standing Together

Times are uncertain and tough for everyone.  The Waterberg is heavily dependent on tourism, the sector that is probably amongst the worst affected by the current pandemic.

It is at times like these that we need to take stock of what we have to offer.  We have a resilient population that knows what it is to face adversity.  We have always fought against the odds and yet come out winners.  In the past the population of the Waterberg has had to cope with the Rinderpest, with Malaria, with Bilharzia, with severe droughts, with extreme heat, with recessions and with wars.  Despite all these obstacles we are still here.

If we are to be successful now it requires “the cooperative participation and buy-in of all the communities of the Waterberg.  For too long we have attempted to deal with matters within our own micro communities, defined by colour or religious sect, language group, or even occupation. But the challenges we face now are much bigger than any one community.  They affect, are dependent on and can only be addressed by the whole community.”

(Quoted extract from “Waterberg Echoes”, by Richard Wadley, published by Protea Books, 2019.)

It is time to put personal issues, prejudices and differences aside and to realise that we need each other.

It starts now, today!

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A Response to Tourism’s Relief Funding – by Ken Maud

As members of the wider tourism family we are saddened and disappointed by the Department of Tourism’s approach to supporting only certain groups with relief funding.
It is 26 years since we entered the new democracy yet unfortunately, politicians and many government bureaucrats are still behaving much as they always have done.  They look at the situation from the top down and have little knowledge or regard of what needs to happen on the ground.
In the Waterberg tourism sector about 90% of the jobs are in the hands of previously disadvantaged people.  Some are owners of game farms or lodges; others are managers of hospitality venues whilst a large number are responsible as guides and rangers.  There are a growing number in the front line to welcome our visitors, as there are an many behind the scenes responsible for catering and housekeeping.  And who do we rely upon for security?

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Weathering the Storm – by Judi Groenewald

Dearest Fellow-Waterbergers and Friends,
As I’m sitting outside under the trees, listening to the wind and looking at the various birds and butterflies going about life in my little bush backyard, I can’t help thinking: “I didn’t think my first blog entry would be during an international pandemic shutting down the very industry we are all so dependent on…”
The COVID-19 outbreak in China was like a far off thunderstorm – you could see it was coming and you were going to get caught in it, but you had no idea how intense the storm would be once it hit.  And like being caught in any storm, you hope that the worst is done by the time it gets to you.

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The COVID-19 (Corona Virus) has reached our shores and is now more than a WhatsApp joke and Facebook meme. With 61 infections, and serious measures put in place by President Ramaphosa last night, most of us have been flooded with queries about safety and even large-scale cancellations.
Travellers are panicking, tourism businesses are panicking, but what should be our appropriate response here in the Waterberg?

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