Swaziland, Mozambique and SA partners to launch East3Route
East3Route is a new initiative between South Africa (represented by KwaZulu-Natal), Mozambique and Swaziland that is aimed at sharing tourism marketing efforts for the benefit of all three countries. This is actually a follow-up to the Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative signed in 1998 by then South African president Nelson Mandela, Mozambique’s ex-president Joachim Chissano and King Mswati III of Swaziland.
Tourism has been identified as the catalyst to help stimulate economic growth within the three countries by showcasing investment opportunities and improving infrastructure to attract more tourists.
For South Africa, the Isimangaliso Wetlands Park will be the focal point for connecting Mozambique and Swaziland. This is a world heritage site with many developments are in the pipeline and still vast amounts of investment opportunities are yet to be explored.
Last week I was part of a 250 strong delegation that consisted of media, businesspeople, tourism officials from all three countries and potential investors that toured all three countries.
Between all three countries, the tour schedule followed a similar pattern, in no particular order…sightseeing, lunch, gala dinner (with speeches), press briefing (with Q&A session) and breakfast.
On Monday 24th October, the official launch took place at Isimangaliso Wetlands Park and we also spent an overnight in St Lucia (KwaZulu-Natal), the following morning we travelled into Ponta D’ouro (Mozambique) and finally drove to Swaziland on Wednesday morning.
Isimangaliso Wetlands Park (South African leg)
The South African delegation first congregated in Moses Mabida Stadium on Monday morning, before departing by bus to St Lucia…where we then met Swaziland and Mozambique delegation.
1. A tourism investment lunch was hosted by the Isimangaliso Wetlands Park, showcasing the available investment opportunities within the region.
2. Roof wetting ceremonies were held at Catalina Bay and Cape Vidal. R7million has been invested in revamping the Cape Vidal camp site and upgrading the day visitor facilities, due to increasing demand.
3. A gala dinner was held at the Mtubatuba Municipality Hall, where songstress Zahara also performed for the visitors.
Press Briefing at Siyabonga Craft Centre:
Zahara performing at the East3Route Gala Dinner in Mtubatuba City Hall:
Ponta D’ouro (Mozambican leg)
From Isimangaliso Wetlands Park, we travelled by bus to Kosi Bay Border Gate, once in Mozambique we had to board the local 4×4 taxis as the roads leading to Ponta D’ouro are only accessible by 4×4 vehicles. These roads are very sandy and not easy to maneuver even on those 4×4 vehicles…
It’s also important to note that since English is not a commonly spoken language in Mozambique communication can prove to be a challenge at times…however the majority of lodging facilities there are South African owned and operated.
Once we reached Ponta D’ouro, we used Cocorico Resort as our base and some of our delegates also lodged there.
Hlane National Park and Ezulwini (Swaziland leg)
After an exhaustive road trip from Ponta D’ouro into Swaziland through the Goma Border Post, we were relieved to connect with the luxury couches which were our original mode on transport from Durban.
We drove into Hlane National Park for a late lunch, when we arrived the weather was miserable which dampen our spirits for a productive game drive. Am one of those who opted not to join the game drive as it was drizzling.
We were on the road yet again, in late afternoon to our final destination to Ezulwini Valley where we spent the night and all other proceedings took place there. I was booked at Ezulwini Sun.
Ways to improve East3Route FAM trip…
- Instead of focusing on touring all three countries within three days, rather only visit one country for all the three days to fully explore it’s tourism offerings and investment opportunities that it represent. This will enable role players in that host country to interact with visiting potential investors and the media in a more detailed manner for the benefit of all involved. This will also help avoid the many logistical problems experienced during the inaugural expedition such as accommodation shortages in Mozambique.
- Introduce a directory listing of visiting delegates, so that all stakeholders will have a reference for contact details.
- Introduce a website for the initiative, which will be a central point for showcasing various products within route, investment opportunities, news about initiative etc. I own the domain name East3Route.com and is for sale.
- Hosting country should make use of their own service providers who are better informed about their environment…in Mozambique a South African company had to run around at the last minute trying to source for extra beds, leaving visiting guests irate (am one of them) at the inconvenience experienced.
- All hosting countries should provide media kits to journalists (only South Africa provided theirs) so they’re better equipped to make follow-ups in terms of interviews and related matters.
- Publicise the investment opportunities available in host country beforehand so that visiting delegates are aware of what to expect and that can also be used in luring investors to join the trip.
- Gala dinner should be open to relevant people only…the king’s children and beauty queens don’t add any value (as was the case in Swaziland).
- Introduce a case study…where an existing tourism business showcases its wares and highlight the type of assistant it requires in order to grow (access to new markets could be a case in point).
- Since this initiative is about Swaziland, Mozambique and South Africa…it is very important that whatever gifts are presented to visiting guests must be manufactured within these three countries. Delegates were presented with CHINA MADE backpacks, hats and with t-shirts MADE IN TANZANIA.
- Everything should be planned and prepared well in advance and nothing should be left for the last minute, it gives the wrong impression to the hosted guests.