Speech delivered by the Executive Mayor of Emfuleni Local Municipality Councillor Greta Hlongwane during the official launch of the Vaal River Carnival at Stonehaven on Vaal on 26 August 2011.
Speaker of Council, Chief Whip of Council, Members of the Mayoral Committee, Hounorable Councillors; Councillors from our sister Municipalities; Officials on duty; Management of Stonehaven; Our Vaal River Carnival partners; Miss Emfuleni; The hospitality and tourism industry; The business fraternity; Friends from the media; Ladies and gentlemen, All protocol observed.
I am standing here today on the Vaal River at the Mayoral Boat Cruise launching the Vaal River Carnival 2011 festivities.
Emfuleni local municipality is once again staging the annual Vaal River Carnival. These festivities are aimed at showcasing and profiling the beauty and splendor of the Vaal Triangle to visitors and residents alike.
Before I proceed, allow me to start by thanking everyone here today for gracing this event with your presence. I also want to extend my special thanks to members of the media who opted to come and join us as we launch our Vaal River Carnival programme.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I must confess that i am extremely excited to be part of this programme. This is one programme which brings families together this time of the year. It brings together both the public and private sector to share their skills in the quest of taking our region forward to revive its opportunities for economic and tourism development.
We are here today launching this programme as part of our continued effort to enhance social cohesion and cultural expression, build community self-esteem and the creation of positive spin-offs for the local economy and especially tourism.
We want our communities to begin to look inwards with a view of identifying what they have in the area of cultural resources and using it to promote culture and tourism in their communities.
It is also our intention to expose those who will be visiting our region during the Carnival period, to our state of the art hotels, conference facilities, business and leisure facilities and the history of the Vaal.
Ladies and gentlemen, through our partnership with the private sector, we want to see the Vaal River Carnival’s festivities taken to the next level.
We want to profile Emfuleni or the Vaal region as a viable tourism and investment destination. We want to draw visitors from all over the country and I want to commit the Municipality towards creating an enabling environment to realize that goal.
The Vaal River Carnival has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception 8 years ago. For instance, last year, we had 15 events over 12 days. This year, we have almost doubled the number of events and the days. We have 29 events which will run over 23 days. This, I believe ladies and gentlemen is a major achievement.
I urge all role players in Emfuleni to join hands and expand our local tourism industry. I do believe that there are many tourism opportunities, especially in our township areas. More people should be encouraged to experience the New South Africa in these areas.
To the banking fraternity I plea for greater financial support to entrepreneurs with bright ideas to expand our tourism product offerings in the various categories of tour operators, tourism product owners, tour guides, self-catering, guest houses, lodges and arts and craft entrepreneurs.
The retail sector in Emfuleni is doing exceptional well during this current economic condition and we are very impressed with the turnover information.
The not so new Macro retail store is anticipating recording a R1 billion turnover during its first year of operation. This new store attracted more and new customers to the area and has improved consumer choices as reflected in increased turnover in the other retail stores.
One such centre, Vaal Mall, is expecting to reach the R1,5 billion turnover this year and this has encouraged the shareholders to add an additional 30 000 sq meters to the current shopping mall.
All residents will be treated to the availability of cinemas at the shopping centre as well as newly constructed parking facilities to accommodate even more customers.
Across the street from Macro, the expansion of the Bedworth Park shopping centre has also been completed, offering a new brand of “big box” shops.
Emfuleni is busy drafting and finalizing some new initiatives to support businesses in Emfuleni as part of LED activities to assist business, encourage business to expand and attract new investment to Emfuleni. Watch this space, announcements will be made soon!!!
Ladies and gentlemen, this year’s Vaal River Carnival, which celebrates its 9th year of success and continuity, will feature a host of exciting, fun filled events starting from the 26 August and concluding on the 9 October 2011.
I would not be doing justice if I fail to thank the management of Stonehaven on Vaal for hosting us on this beautiful and safe boat.
Let me in closing, present to you the 2011 Vaal River Carnival. I’m inviting you to be part of the Carnival and discover the rhythm of the Vaal.
I thank you all!!