Go Gauteng

South Africa's Smallest Province packs the biggest muscle

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Perception often has it that Gauteng is overshadowed by the Western Cape as a tourism destination. But perception, it seems, isn’t everything.

It’s South Africa’s smallest province, although it has the country’s largest population, and there are things to do and places to see aplenty.

So much so that Joburg Tourism has launched a fun domestic tourism campaign designed to encourage Joburg’s residents to make the city’s visitors feel warmly welcomed. The campaign launched on 22nd February, coinciding with Meetings Africa.

The Welcome to Jozi – Make a Visitor’s Day! campaign aims to inform and educate Joburgers on how to be great Johannesburg ambassadors, promote the city, enhance the Joburg visitor’s experience and ensure that visitors have great memories of Joburg. It will also illustrate how tourism impacts each and every Joburg resident.

Residents of the city are encouraged to be helpful, courteous and friendly. This may be a simple gesture such as helping a visitor with directions. Joburgers can make a visitor’s day by showing them the city’s rich culture, heritage, leisure and lifestyle attractions and activities. This means that they have to be familiar with the city’s tourist attractions and how to access them. As in many other destinations around the world, residents often remain unaware of their city’s tourism and leisure offerings and the campaign aims to address this.

The Welcome to Jozi – Make a Visitor’s Day Today! campaign will also showcase Johannesburg’s capabilities and credentials as an international destination of choice and as a year-round destination for business and investment, business events, lifestyle, sports and leisure.

“Visitors to our city make a significant contribution to Johannesburg’s economy, which benefits development, job creation and transformation. By giving our visitors the best experiences while in our vibrant city, we are nurturing and growing tourism’s contribution to our local economy which is advantageous to all of us,” says Counselor Ruby Mathang, head of economic development at the City of Johannesburg.

He adds that the campaign’s success is dependent on collaboration and co-operation between the City of Johannesburg, its residents and all tourism stakeholders. “By working together we can ensure visitors to our wonderful city experience the best that Johannesburg has to offer – our warm and welcoming people and the fantastic variety of experiences and attractions on offer.”

Economic hub

Gauteng is, of course, the key driver of South Africa’s economy. Key food and beverage brands are in operation around here. Nestlé and Pioneer Foods have spent millions on new developments and improvements. Rainbow, one the country’s leaders in poultry production, has 18 farms and two feed mills in the province.

South African Breweries (SAB) has recently constructed a new plant producing malted barley in Alrode to the value of R700-million.

Companies such as Kimberly-Clark, Proctor & Gamble, ArcelorMittal, Transnet Engineering and Aspen all have manufacturing facilities in Gauteng Province.

Places to see

When it comes to places to see, Gauteng more than holds its own. Here are a few examples to whet the traveller’s appetite:

The Cradle of Humankind

This is one of eight World Heritage Sites in South Africa. Here, the landscape is dotted with subterranean limestone caves that have turned up a rich fossil record for human evolutionary studies, which lend credence to the ‘Out of Africa’ theory of where our ancestors came from.

Archaeological finds within the Cradle of Humankind include two-million-year-old stone tools.

About 50km north-west of Johannesburg, the Crade is situated within an area of undulating grassland, rocky outcrops and river courses typical of the Highveld before it was overtaken by urban sprawl.

Melville

Melville was once the vibrant and trendy centre of Johannesburg’s bohemian life. Although shifting populations and an economic downturn have dimmed its image somewhat, it still maintains a buzz with a busy student population, great restaurants and funky bars. It’s also home to the lovely Melville Koppies Nature Reserve.

Melville Koppies Nature Reserve was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its archaelogical significance.

Roodeplaat Dam Nature Reserve

Close to Pretoria, this is a wonderful natural haven where you can retreat for a spot of birding, angling or game-viewing. There’s also a relaxed hike you can take around the perimeter of the dam, offering some striking views. The wild animals are not too wild either.

If you’re an angler, you’ll find bass, carp and kurper here.

Dinokeng

South-east of Pretoria lies a constellation of natural attractions – private and public reserves, sanctuaries and wooded hideaways. They are grouped within a destination called Dinokeng, which jauntily labels itself ‘Africa in one day’.

Sprawling over a surprisingly large 200 000 hectares, Dinokeng includes Roodeplaat Dam Nature Reserve, long a popular destination for people living in Pretoria and Johannesburg.

The dam itself (an irrigation dam originally, later developed as part of a game reserve) attracts many anglers, and the variety of vegetation around it means good birding.

Red City Sightseeing Bus

Like Cape Town, Johannesburg’s Red City Sightseeing Bus is your best bet if you’re a fresh arrival in the City of Gold. It’s also a great option if you’re looking for fun things to do in Johannesburg on a budget; for only R150 (that’s the price for adults, it’s R80 for children aged 5 – 15 and kids under 5 go free), the bus will help you get acquainted with the city on a hop on, hop off basis. All the while you can choose to sit on the open-top upper deck or in sheltered comfort underneath while the running commentary introduces you to the urban core of Mzansi.

Moyo

The face-painting waitrons at Moyo are a deft hand at getting you into the spirit of Mzansi with their freehand creations. Situated at Zoo Lake, the Moyo here is a good choice for drinks and eats in one of Joburg’s most popular city greenbelts. The relaxed park setting is ideal for kid parties, adult events or just kicking back with a cocktail on the deck. By day Moyo offers a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere; as the sun sets, fabulous live music sets the tone for an evening of fine-dining and ethnic vibes.

Montecasino

The sky’s the limit when it comes to what you’re allowed to spend at this glitzy one-stop entertainment complex; however, you’ll probably do better to set yourself a guarded budget if you really must chance your arm at the machines in the casino. For those who aren’t interested in gambling there’s plenty more fun things to do here; enjoy shopping at several specialty stores, have dinner in the sky, visit the Bird Gardens at Montecasino for family fun, feast on the menus of more than 35 franchise and exclusive restaurants, and discover Johannesburg culture at the theatre, movies and Parker’s Comedy Club – the home of South African Stand-Up Comedy. All of this and more under one Tuscan encrusted roof makes for an unbeatable indoor entertainment bonanza at Montecasino.

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