Sandisiwe Mbhele

By Sandisiwe Mbhele

UX Content Writer

How an Mpumalanga lodge is changing the face of local tourism

eBundu Lodge in Mbombela, Mpumalanga is working with stokvels and the LGBTQIA community to help them travel and experience the best that tourism has to offer.

If inclusivity means creating new ways to involve the majority of the country’s demographic then it is more than welcome.

With the tourism industry asking for more South Africans to travel their country, as international tourism has fallen, the industry is looking at interesting ways for locals to see its beauty.

eBundu Lodge in Mpumalanga was riding on the high influx of guests in 2019 and had bookings in a year in advance going into 2020, co-owner Zodwa Tshabalala said.

“Generally we had high requests from Germany, Sweden and the Asian market. During the off-peak season, they would come in their numbers which was great for our economy. I think the tourism industry was going from strength to strength and it showed how much input we had in the GDP.”

So to adapt to the present climate eBundu did not want to follow what others are doing, maintaining the status quo to survive during a pandemic.

“A lot of people are doing the same old in the Covid-19 era, trying to resuscitate this market. Prior to Covid, we had been looking into stokvels and the LGBTQIA community. Take what we know and applying it.”

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They have been working in conjunction with tour buses to pull in locals to see the many captivating parts of Mpumalanga. And they’re using stokvels as an opportunity to tap into a market the tourism industry has ignored, older black travellers.

“A lot of elderly people have not had the opportunity to travel, it was not their focus which was taking care of their families and going to work. People want to come, they want to see. There is so much on offer that our industry has to look into it.”

People are interested and they’re already seeing it. Tshabalala says with their award-winning accommodation at eBundu, they still believe in collaboration not only promoting their own lodge but the province as a whole.

And the decision to work with LGBTQIA community bus tours was from intrigue and observation, asking the question  why the community needed their own.

“We wondered why they purely focus on the community but when you think about it, not all places are accommodating to them.”

With inclusivity a hot topic, local tourism establishments should continue to look at ways to draw in a large sector of society wanting to see South Africa in all its glory.

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