In the public eye

Municipal resorts: we have them, let’s manage them better

The National Tourism Sector Strategy addresses the need for affordable resorts to stimulate domestic tourism. Given the cost of developing new resorts, existing municipal resorts provide a viable option to meet this need.

South Africa’s unique history has resulted in many local municipalities owning and thus having to manage holiday resorts even though this is not their core competency. These resorts were built to provide leisure facilities for local residents and tourists. Some local municipalities have more than one resort originally built to cater to different racial groups.

Over time other priorities – such as housing and infrastructure development – have taken priority over leisure facilities and many of these resorts have deteriorated due to a lack of maintenance. They have become a burden to the municipalities, with a lack of maintenance leading to a downward spiral which has resulted in reduced utilisation and no income stream available for maintenance.

Even so, local municipalities need to provide affordable leisure facilities to their residents so these resorts cannot simply be sold off to be developed for other uses. Some local municipalities have tried to lease their resorts to private managers. Unfortunately this approach has not always resulted in the resort being managed successfully or the municipality’s financial burden being reduced. Too often, bad management has led to an exacerbation of the problem.

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