There is still a shortage of 7 000 beds in neighbouring Mbombela, Mpumalanga province host city for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, it has been revealed.

This gives an opportunity for the local hospitality industry to capitalise on this shortage through providing the needed beds, noted 2010 Technical Committee Chairman Apollo Maphalala.
“I was recently informed that out of the 55 000 beds required in Mbombela host city, they’re still about 7 000 short, which is provides an opportunity for the local business community,” he said.

Maphalala said the 2010 technical committee had established documented relationships with Mozambique and the Mpumalanga province on issues related to the world cup event.
“A lot of work has been done in creating programmes of joint cooperation in such areas as tourism, entertainment and others. A joint 2010 activity calendar for the region is in the pipeline,” he said.

“We want to get people to have breakfast in Swaziland, lunch in Mozambique and dinner in Nelspruit and all this is actually possible. We want to combine the culture of Swaziland with Mozambique’s beaches and Mpumalanga’s nature reserves.”

The chairman said this initiative has since been termed the BBC (Bush, Beach, Culture) Concept between the three countries. “We need entrepreneurs who will stand at an elevated point and foresee or envision business opportunities from such ‘forests’,” he added.

Meanwhile, Maphalala said training programmes for such groups as public transport personnel, front-liners in the hospitality industry, filling station attendants in such topics as service excellence, customer care and others were to commence this quarter.

“This is aimed at countering attrition amongst trainees. The Swaziland Tourism Authority has since engaged petrol attendants because it is a reality that they don’t know tourist destinations so it is important that they are trained,” he noted.

On the other hand, the chairman said the committee had engaged public transport operators with the view to assemble a realistic and effective 2010 transport operation plan.
He said even though executives of the associations of public transport vehicles had raised a lot of concerns, plans for a more tourist-friendly transport service continue to be hatched. “We will have more meetings with the transport stakeholders this year as 2010 draws closer,” he added.

Maphalala said the committee had also dealt with the creation of marketing platforms in target countries through the facilitation of the ministry of foreign affairs, adding that to this extent, the Embassies of Argentina and Japan had been engaged. He said basis for such was the targeting of diplomatic relations, economic standing, countries’ football profiles and other relevant information and issues.

Four borders targeted for 24hr operation

WITH two border posts already set to operate 24 hours by next year, the 2010 Technical Committee is still negotiating with two others to do the same.

Chairman Apollo Maphalala said the committee had engaged the department of immigration with the view to operate four of the country’s border posts on a 24-hour basis by 2010. These being Ngwenya, Lavumisa, Matsamo and Mhlumeni.

The Mhlumeni border post started operating 24 hours last week after an agreement between the Swaziland and Mozambique governments. Maphalala said the Ngwenya border post was ready for this move.

“Negotiations are still ongoing but we have been assured that whether the government initiative to have the border open 24 hours doesn’t fall through it will be open during the 2010 World Cup event,” he said. “The 2010 committee has secured consensus with the Oshoek border control officers that from May 18 till July the border will be open 24 hours.”

However, he said there were still difficulties in getting the Lavumisa and Matsamo borders to operate on a 24-hour basis. “We’re still having problems with having these two borders open all day, especially because of infrastructure challenges.”

PUBLICATION: The Swazi Observer
AUTHOR: Teetee Zwane
DATED: 8th September 2009