Yesterday saw the launch of this exciting new venture for the iLembe district, WOWZULU is sure to “WOW” tourists to the area!
The bright new WOWZULU Marketplace in the Sangweni Tourist Information Centre, right in the heart of Ballito, has two main purposes:
Firstly, it is there to ‘wow’ tourists.
It is a highly accessible venue, right in the heart of one of South Africa’s most popular and fastest growing tourist destinations, where international and South African tourists can get a vibrant introduction to contemporary Zulu culture, and from where friendly tour guides can take them out to explore the scenically beautiful North Coast with its rich culture, history and adventure tourism offerings.
Secondly, and more importantly, the WOWZULU Marketplace is a catalyst to plug previously excluded rural tourism entrepreneurs and craft producers into the iLembe District’s tourist economy, in an effort to increase their earning potential and improve their lives and those of their communities.
WOWZULU Responsible Tourism is a rural enterprise development initiative of the non-profit rural development agency Africa!Ignite and partners such as Enterprise iLembe, the South African Jobs Fund, the KZN Department of Economic Development and Tourism and others.
WOWZULU NORTH COAST
The WOWZULU Marketplace in Ballito is hard to miss: it is housed in two transformed shipping containers, brightly painted in yellow and purple, a sleek modern interior and massive picture windows. Tables and chairs are dotted around outside, under a roof overhang and between the trees of the Sangweni Tourist Information Centre.
Providing Tourists with the opportunity to purchase upmarket locally made craft products that fuse exquisite Zulu handcraft with contemporary design; hear stories of the area; sample master chef Phumlani Mthembu’s excellent ‘Kasi Taste’ gourmet interpretations of traditional dishes like chicken wings, steamed bread, mini ‘designer bunnies’, curries or pap and chakalala. Not forgetting this modern day market place is the gateway to the cultural, historical, natural and adventure experience within the region.
Experiences that will be available from 1 July will include:
- Walk in the footsteps of Chief Albert Luthuli, Africa’s first Nobel Peace Prize winner and icon of South Africa’s freedom struggle. The walk takes tourists from the Luthuli Museum at what was once his humble home, pssst local schools, a ‘shisa nyama’ and other establishments in the friendly village of Groutville to where he died tragically in an accident on a railway bridge;
- A ‘bees and birds’ experience in Amatikulu in the far north of the area, including a visit to a passionate beekeeper and canoeing on the Amatikulu River with experienced bird guides;
- A snorkel tour along the coast from Sheffield Beach to Thompson’s Bay, exploring the underwater world of rock pools at low tide.
WOWZULU RESPONSIBLE TOURISM ACROSS KWAZULU-NATAL
The GOAL of WOWZULU Responsible Tourism is to create sustainable jobs and business opportunities for hundreds of craft producers and previously excluded community tourism enterprises who are on the doorstep of popular tourist destinations, by linking them into the wider tourism offer of the destination. The WOWZULU team supports the development of these enterprises through sustained training and mentoring, as well as strong international and national marketing and sales support.
The crux of the WOWZULU model is to create ‘inclusive tourist destinations’, which fuse the established commercial and emerging community-based tourism components in a tourist destination into a larger, more diverse and more interesting tourism offer. In the process, the community benefits economically and socially, the wider destination benefits from greater tourist appeal, and tourists benefit because they have a greater range of attractions and experiences to choose from.
WOWZULU operates in seven tourist destinations across KwZulu-Natal:
- Isandlwana in the KwaZulu-Natal Battlefields;
- Khula Village outside St Lucia in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site;
- The Inanda Valley inland of Durban, cradle of South Africa’s democracy;
- eMazizini in the Amphitheatre area of the northern Drakensberg;
- Ugu on the South Coast;
- The far north of KZN, around Tembe Elephant Park and Ndumo Game Reserve; and
- The iLembe district around Ballito on the North Coast;
Enterprise iLembe Partnership
“Enterprise iLembe is the Economic Development Agency of iLembe District with a mandate to drive economic development and promote trade and investment in the region. The key focus areas are agriculture, manufacturing, services and tourism.
By 2026, iLembe is the most desired coastal destination in southern Africa that delivers sustainable benefits for all our people.
The tourism objectives are to:
- increase arrivals, length of stay and geographic spread
- increase levels of investment
- stakeholder partnerships
The WOWZULU Project is in line with the tourism mandate as it aims to diversify and expand the scope of iLembe’s tourism offerings by adding new community-based experiences and products. This is likely to attract more tourists, encourage visitors to stay longer in the District and therefore increase the sustainability of the socio-economic benefits for both the commercial and community tourism sectors and ultimately all the people of iLembe.