Keep SA tourism showpiece pristine

Preliminary figures indicate that the South African tourism industry can expect a huge fillip from the Soccer World Cup – provided that new development is done with an eye on the environment.

Quoting recent figures, Harcourts Africa CEO Martin Schultheiss says that more than 100 000 international visitors were counted during the opening days of the soccer tournament, with more expected as it progresses towards the final.

“Moreover, the country benefited from a 34% increase in inbound tourism spending during the first quarter of 2010 – arguably thanks to the additional interest in the country generated by the World Cup. And tourists generally, as well as soccer fans who will undertake short tours during their stay, are undoubtedly attracted by the country’s famed wildlife and spectacular scenery.

“Which presents a challenge for all stakeholders in the local property industry: while SA faces pressing housing and infrastructural needs, new development simply must take account of the impact on the environment and thus on future tourism, which is one of South Africa’s most promising sources of foreign exchange, not to mention the opportunities it holds to create much needed jobs.”

He says stakeholders, which include homebuyers as well as town planners and developers, should wholeheartedly commit themselves to sustainable development that is environmentally responsible. “Putting the brakes on urban sprawl is imperative to prevent degradation of our natural attractions.”

One way of limiting encroaching development, Schultheiss says, is to take a new look at existing residential areas that have fallen out of favour or have deteriorated. Such areas usually have existing infrastructure that can be upgraded and improved, an option that is cheaper by far than creating new infrastructure. An added bonus is that many such areas are close to inner cities and link comfortably with extended infrastructure.

“Breathing new life into neglected suburbs will not only alleviate pressure on natural areas, but will also go a long way to gentrify our inner cities – another important factor in tourism appeal.”

Article by: www.harcourts.co.za