“Each day, all categories of staff in the department and in our entity, Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, are showing a determination to realize our vision of using tourism as a catalyst to stimulate rural and township economy,” said Siboniso Duma, the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs stated today.

About 10 quadbikes valued at R1.2 million were handed over to the owner of Somopho Hills Adventure Park located in deep rural areas of eMpangeni under King Cetshwayo District Municipality.

Somopho Hills was founded by Lungani Mthembu in 2021, a young entrepreneur and a member of the Mthembu royal family. He approached the department with a vision of uplifting his local and rural community. He is passionate about conserving the rich Zulu heritage and the beauty of the untouched wilderness that has survived for centuries.

By and large, the livelihood of the people from the Somopho village has been based on livestock and subsistence agriculture. Now they are involved in tourism and 15 local youth are employed by the adventure park.

Duma believes what Lungani has created will last a lifetime. He also hoped it will also inspire more young people to look around their own communities and search for ways to use what they have, to build more innovative tourism products that create jobs for their communities and take tourism to even greater heights.

“A great part of the attractions is the deeply rooted culture of Zulu storytelling bringing the rich stories and traditions of the past to life. This storytelling promotes our culture and heritage to fellow South Africans and global travellers who will take their experience to their family and friends and inspire them to visit KZN,” he said. 

“We express our appreciation to the representatives of the entire travel industry, tour operators, brand strategists, creative directors, public relations practitioners, marketers, celebrities and other professionals who have been working with us to rebuild the tourism sector,” he pointed out.

He further explained: “Tourism is the sector which relies heavily on these professionals for its growth. These professionals are known for using a variety of mainstream and massmedia platforms to communicate with the public.”

 “We thank them for assisting us to reach potential tourists across the country and the world. I invite them to put Somopho Hills on the national and global map.”

He revealed that KZN welcomed 969, 765 visitors during the first quarter of this year, a sign that tourism was on its way to recovery.   

“Pleasingly we have noted that the number of foreign visitors to KZN rose to 164 000 in the first quarter of the year, which is the highest since the end of 2020 and indicates a recovery in our foreign market.”

He further revealed that the provincial government had won the rights to host the XIX World Water Conference 2025 an event that will bring over 3000 delegates to the City of Durban and the province. He attributed this achievement to the department’s KZN Convention Bureau.

“Through hosting national and international conferences, about R2 billion was injected into the local economy last year alone.”

He concluded by assuring stakeholders in the tourism industry that efforts were being made to ensure ongoing supply of water throughout the corners of the province ahead of summer holidays and beyond.

 Yesterday he addressed the legislature where he outlined how the more than R12 billion allocated by the Department of Water and Sanitation is being spend to repair water infrastructure and to build new dams.

“September as the first month of Spring is also the precursor to summer with its wonderful warm weather. So now is the time to plan your exciting summer holiday and take advantage of those specials on the Tourism KZN website www.zulu.org.za.

“I look forward to welcoming our thousands of visitors to our most diverse holiday destination from the towering peaks of the Drakensberg Mountains to the pristine expanses of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and our golden beaches.”