Durban, South Africa: TOURISM KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN) has welcomed a new General Manager responsible for tourism development.
Nhlanhla Khumalo joins the region's tourism authority with a wealth of experience, an impressive track record and a national perspective.
Focused and determined, he says he is driven to get tourism projects implemented, adding "I just don't give up easily."
The holder of a Masters' degree in tourism, Khumalo previously worked for the national Department of Environmental Affairs, which at one stage also encompassed the national Department of Tourism. He held a range of top jobs and was the director of programme implementation for the coastal provinces-including KZN-for the past eight years.
He managed, implemented and completed some 180 environmental protection and infrastructure projects around the country with a total budget of more than R5.4-billion. They also achieved clean audits over the past seven years.
He further managed and implemented a programme that over-achieved on its annual performance plan, with one programme serving 391 stakeholders (245 in the public sector and 146 in the private sector) for six years.
He was behind the tourism infrastructure development in various protected areas (nature reserves) and their surrounding communities in several provinces.
"I have always been responsible for environmental and tourism infrastructure development, including, but not limited to, access roads and accommodation facilities in protected areas," he said.
Hailing from Newcastle, he was excited to be returning to his home province to do the same work.
His new job will be to identify potential tourism projects and with the market wanting tourism projects linked to nature, that would involve further developing rural tourism.
As TKZN has long been keen on the geographical spread of tourism opportunities, he would be focusing his attention on rural tourism.
"There are sufficient opportunities for rural tourism development in the province for both cultural heritage and nature-based tourism products.
"In the battlefields and Zululand regions for example, there is huge potential for cultural and heritage tourism and also huge potential for nature-based tourism in the Elephant Coast," he explained.
His first job will be to embark on a situational analysis of what opportunities are available in KZN, identifying existing gaps for potential tourism development.
Khumalo is also responsible for investment promotion, and he will be looking for investors for proposed tourism projects.
With his existing business network, he does not envisage any problems getting the necessary investors.
"As long as you have a plan that is easy to present, those who have the money will make it available," he said.
Public-private partnerships were options for such funding, as was the involvement of local communities, who could make land available. Previous developments had involved government funding, with private sector businesses operating the projects.