Tour operators take in JDA's potential tourism attractions

The transformed Rotunda Park in TurffonteinAlice Moloto, the JDA's manager of internal communications, leads tour operators through the transformed Rotunda Park in Turffontein. (Photo: Elias Nkabinde)

Tour operators got a close-up take of some of the JDA's latest development work in Turffontein, Westbury and Alexandra recently, and were impressed with the tourism potential of what they saw.

The Alexandra Heritage CentreThe Alexandra Heritage Centre's museum will tell Alexandra's stories from as far back as when Khoisan people first settled in the area. (Photo: Elias Nkabinde)The work of the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) is vital to the success of the City of Johannesburg's Growth and Development Strategy, Joburg GDS 2040, in creating a city that is resilient, liveable and sustainable - and in creating new attractions for tourism.

Alice Moloto, the JDA's manager of internal communications and special projects, led group of tour operators on a visit to the JDA's recently completed and ongoing projects in Turffontein, Westbury and Alexandra on Tuesday, 27 October.

Representatives from Mozee Tours & Transport and Yarine GT attended the outing, which was the latest in a series of guided tours organised by the JDA to encourage tour operators to take advantage of potential new tourism attractions that the JDA's development work is opening up around Johannesburg.

Rotunda Park: hub for social cohesion

The tour's first stop was at Rotunda Park in Turffontein, one of the largest and oldest parks in the city. The implementation of the Rotunda Park Precinct Project has seen the park undergo an extraordinary transformation.

It now boasts a new skateboard court, an astro-turf mini soccer field, revamped netball and tennis courts, a state-of-the-art children's play area complete with rubberised surfaces, a fitness track and picnic shelters.

The outdoor gym area and gym equipment as well as the cycling space have been enlarged and modernised. New paving, upgraded and extended street lighting and newly installed street furniture have greatly improved the public environment.

"Parks positively contribute to communities in which they exist by serving as hubs of cohesion and inclusion. They foster social and cultural cohesion," Moloto said.

"The upgrades also make these facilities appealing to visitors, effectively turning them into tourism attractions."

Pedestrian bridge complete with park, amphitheatre

The Westbury pedestian bridge amphitheatreThe Westbury pedestian bridge amphitheatre will provide an excellent new venue for live performances, concerts and the arts. (Photo: Elias Nkabinde)The next stop was the landmark pedestrian bridge currently under construction in Westbury.

The new bridge will not only give residents safe passage over a busy main artery and connect them directly to Westbury's BRT station - it will also feature a green open public space complete with an amphitheatre, outdoor gym and play area for children.

It is being built over Fuel Road in close proximity to Rea Vaya's Westbury station, and will connect Kretzschmar Street in Westbury with Kowie Street in neighbouring Coronationville.

"The amphitheatre and other features are sure to attract visitors, giving them more options for entertainment," Moloto said. "This area will also cater for the many children who live in this area but have very few opportunities for play.

"The live performance, concerts and arts that will take place at this amphitheatre have the potential to be a great attraction for tourists," she said, adding: "Its proximity to the Rea Vaya station will also make it a safe and easy destination for tourists."

Heritage Centre to open untapped tourism potential

The final stop of the tour was the nearly completed Alexandra Heritage Centre, which is poised to catalyse the development of untapped tourism potential in Johannesburg's oldest township.

With its striking architectural design and versatile levels built to accommodate a museum, an interactive exhibition venue, spaces for community events and small business training, and shops for local crafters and traders, the centre seeks to reflect the rich history of Alexandra while feeding off its unique energy.

The Alexandra Heritage Centre will also be closely associated with the Mandela Yard, which is situated diagonally opposite across the intersection of 7th Avenue and Richard Baloyi Street.

"This centre will be highly insightful for tourists to learn about Joburg's oldest township and to ensure that the human stories of Alexandra are told," Moloto said.

"The centre will feature a museum, which will have memorabilia and stories from the community, will also contain information that will tell Alexandra's story from as far back as when the first Khoi-San people settled there."

Eye opener for tour operators

For Moses Ndlovu, director at Mozee Tours & Transport, the tour was an eye opener to the developments the City and the JDA have been implementing.

He believes Westbury Bridge's amphitheatre and green space has a lot of potential for tourism. "I have led several tour operations for tourists into Soweto, so I was truly delighted to learn about this new amphitheatre in Westbury.

"Tourists do not just want to go to Soweto and go back, they want to see unique places and different people," Ndlovu said. "I think it will also be a convenient stop for tourists wanting to see Soweto, especially because it located on route there.

"But I must say that the highlight of this trip was the Alexandra Heritage Centre," Ndlovu said. "For several years we tour operators have struggled to sell Alexandra to tourists. I think this centre will make a strong case, given the museum and its proximity to Nelson Mandela's Yard."