Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane has officiated a sod turning ceremony to mark the construction of a multi-million rand Skywalk project in Thaba Chweu Local Municipality. She was accompanied by MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, Mr Vusi Mkhatshwa, Thaba Chweu Executive Mayor, Cllr. Fridah Nkadimeng and Chairperson of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA), Mr Victor Mashego.
The project involves the development of a glass walkway suspended off the edge of the cliff, to give tourists a 360-degree panoramic view, and is located within the proximity of the famous Graskop Gorge. It is envisaged that three hundred (300) job opportunities will be created during the construction phase, while a hundred (100) of them will be permanent once the project is completed.
Premier Mtshweni-Tsipane says the event marked a significant milestone in Mpumalanga’s journey to assume the status as one of the country’s major tourism destinations through the use of natural resources. “The God’s Window Skywalk project is an extraordinary example of how our Province can utilize its resources such as its natural beauty, scenic landscapes, well-managed national parks, culture, the arts, and what is referred to as the creative economy, in order to create a better life for our people,” the Premier explained. She added that the Provincial Government will be watching the roll-out of the project to provide support where it is necessary to ensure that it succeeds.
The sod turning ceremony took place in September as the country is celebrating tourism and the diverse cultures and heritage. Mtshweni-Tsipane says government’s support for the project is geared towards contributing to the growth of international and domestic tourism in the province.
The construction of the Skywalk Project is seen as a major boost towards Mpumalanga’s aspiration of growing the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Mtshweni-Tsipane cited tourism as a sector known for its resilience to economic downturns and crises.
“Although the tourism sector is currently struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are working hard to turn the situation around,” says Johannes Nobunga, CEO of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency. “We are also working to ensure that all of our ongoing tourism projects create jobs and support emerging black entrepreneurs.”
“We believe that the skywalk and the activities around it will encourage visitors to Mpumalanga to add an extra day or two to their trip and explore the province further,” adds Nobunga. ”There is so much for people to experience here. Whether visitors are after adventure in the form of abseiling, river rafting, fly fishing, rock-climbing and bush walks; scenery – such as at God’s Window and Three Rondavels; the Kruger National Park’s wildlife and safari experience, which is world-renowned and needs no introduction; culture: most notably in the shape of famous Ndebele painter, Dr Esther Mahlangu; or heritage – Mpumalanga has it all.”
“As we celebrate Tourism Month, this is an opportune time to showcase what this project will bring for our tourists and, most of all, communities residing close to Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve. This will definitely diversify the tourism product offering in Mpumalanga.