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M Shilowa: First phase of Dinokeng Game Reserve

17 Apr 2007
Speech by Premier Mbhazima Shilowa at the inspection of the
first phase of the Dinokeng Game Reserve

17 April 2007

Programme director
MECs
Mayors
Ladies and gentlemen

When we developed our strategy to build Gauteng as a globally competitive
city region, we said our ability to create quality jobs and sustainable
livelihoods for our people depends in large measure on our ability to attract
investment and tourism in our country. We said tourism provides significant
opportunities for economic empowerment and to bridge the divide between the
first and second economy.

Today's event marking the completion of the first phase of the Dinokeng Game
Reserve is a milestone in our effort to build tourism, attract investment,
create jobs and to spur economic growth to the required 8% by 2014. It is our
hope that the completion of this game reserve will be a key catalyst in the
economic revival of the entire Motsweding district.

The latest tourism statistics produced by South African Tourism indicate
that foreign tourist arrivals to South Africa reached a record high of 7,4
million last year, which represents a 10,3% increase on the figures for 2004,
and exceeds the estimated 5,5% average global growth rate in tourism.

Gauteng's share of this growth has remained constant at about 50% of all
international tourists to South Africa and the share in domestic tourism stands
at 20%. The majority of these domestic travellers (68%) are people visiting
friends and relatives. The launch of this game reserve will help in ensuring
that visitors to our province stay longer and experience some of our best
attractions.

Having had the opportunity to fly over the entire reserve I have seen the
kind of work that has been done to prepare this place to take its place as one
of the key tourism destinations in our country offering diverse
attractions.

This reserve was conceived as part of the Blue IQ initiative of the Gauteng
Provincial Government, which seeks to invest public resources in developing
strategic areas of the provincial economy and to create opportunities which
have long term benefits to the people of the province.

I recognise that the private sector has made major investments in land and
facilities in the Dinokeng area. The investment by the Gauteng Provincial
Government in infrastructure, government-to-government facilitation, public
private partnerships and in building a viable Dinokeng brand is designed to
complement your investment.

Gauteng has a large urban population, a clustering of cities which are
dynamic economic engines driving not only national and regional growth but they
are also key drivers of the global economy. Dinokeng is part of this Global
City Region � a place to break away from the urban buzz for meetings,
conference and events and an ideal destination for leisure activities.

The work that has been done here so far is impressive. The construction of
perimeter fence has been completed and apart from what you see here at Xombana
Lodge, which opened in February this year, this phase of the Dinokeng Game
Reserve already offers 268 catered bed nights at 18 sites (predominantly event
and conference venues but with approximately 100 beds available for individual
bookings), 160 beds for school groups in an adventure camp focusing on
environmental education and leadership development, 2 restaurants, diverse day
visitor activities, game drives, elephant rides, horse riding, hiking, quad
biking, balloon rides and live music.

In addition cultural activities, township tours and shebeen routes in
adjacent communities are already enjoying high patronage. This integration of
township life into the overall Dinokeng tourism experience is crucial to the
success of this game reserve.

It reinforces the decision we took as the Gauteng Provincial Government that
we would not establish this game reserve by removing people from their land,
and by destroying their livelihoods.

We took that decision because we recognise that we are building a new nation
which is free from the painful experiences of the past. I am confident that the
game reserve and neighbouring communities will forge strong relationships, even
though you are divided by a fence.

There are two proverbs from our languages that we need to think about
carefully. One is that 'good fences make good neighbours.' The other is that
'motho ke motho ka batho.' - we remain part of a community, even if we live
behind fences, and we need to look after each other.

At this stage the internal fencing is being taken down and, with the recent
approval of the MEC for Public Transport Roads and Works, MEC Ignatius Jacobs,
for access control on public roads the way has been cleared for temporary gates
to be erected to manage payment of gate entrance fees. In December we will be
cutting the ribbon for the new permanent gates to the home of Dinokeng for free
roaming game in Gauteng's Big 5 Game Reserve.

MEC Mashatile has told me that great progress is already being made with
plans for expansion of the Dinokeng Game Reserve. I am pleased to inform you
that agreement on areas of co-operation has been finalised with the Mpumalanga
Provincial Government and discussions are in progress with our counterparts in
Limpopo, particularly involving communities whose land is in the process of
being restored as part of the land restitution process. Minister Lekota has
confirmed the co-use of military land in support of the Dinokeng Game
Reserve.

I am also pleased to announce that a decision is pending on the vesting of
certain state land with the Gauteng Provincial Government which, together with
a further 3 300 hectares of private land we hope will constitute the 2nd phase
of the Dinokeng Game Reserve and that this expansion is likely to be
incorporated into the Dinokeng Game Reserve, initially as a plains game area,
ahead of the opening of the permanent gates.

Adv Mahlathi of the Gauteng Tourism Authority (GTA) is here together with
other representatives of the tourism sector. The GTA has a mandate to create a
world class provincial destination that will attract business tourists and
leisure tourists. Consumer spending on tourism is the stimulus for local
economic growth.

The development of Dinokeng is not just about building the economy of the
Gauteng Province. The Limpopo and Mpumalanga Provincial Governments are
committing huge resources towards the promotion of tourism among their poorest
communities and the Gauteng Provincial Government is seeking ways to stimulate
tourism trips to neighbouring areas in these provinces as well.

Just like you, I want people to know about unknown places like Rust de
Winter, Leeuwkloof, Moretele and Elands Rivers, and other wild pleasures to be
enjoyed in the neighbouring townships of Steve Bikoville and Hammanskraal.

I have noticed that Dinokeng is already developing a name for musical
events, and that there will be a performance by Matthys Roets at this venue
next month. I think this is a welcome development as it will put Dinokeng on
the map as a prime place for fun, leisure and business conferencing in
Gauteng.

Welcome to Dinokeng, the home of the Big 5 in the bustling city region of
Gauteng.

I thank you

Issued by: Office of the Premier, Gauteng Provincial Government
17 April 2007