Pretoria — The National Empowerment Fund (NEF) is participating in the Tourism Indaba 2017 currently underway in Durban.
"The NEF aims to expose its funded investees to the continents top travellers. The Indaba is Africa's top tourism trade show that brings together more than 7 000 delegates that represent the top tourism products in Africa, including the world's leading travel buyers and travel and tourism media," it said of its participation in the Indaba.
The development finance institution, which has invested in excess of R100 million in the tourism industry, said it regards tourism as a modern day engine of growth and as one of the largest industries globally.
"The NEF regards tourism as a modern day engine of growth and as one of the largest industries globally. In 2012, G20 heads of state recognised tourism as a driver of growth and development, as well as a sector that has the potential to spur global economic recovery," said NEF Chief Executive Officer Philisiwe Mthethwa said on Tuesday.
Mthethwa said South Africa's scenic beauty, magnificent outdoors, sunny climate, cultural diversity and reputation for delivering value for money have made it one of the world's fastest growing leisure and business travel destinations.
The recently released World Economic Forum (WEF) Tourism Competitive Index ranks South Africa as number one on the continent ahead of traditional powerhouses like Kenya, Tanzania and Cape Verde.
Since inception, the Empowerment Fund, which is an agency of the Department of Trade and Industry has invested millions within the booming tourism industry accommodation facilities.
Among the NEF funded portfolio investment is Tala Private Game Reserve which is located in Camperdown in KwaZulu-Natal.
This game reserve is home to more than 380 bird species, as well as big game like rhino, kudu, hippo, and the rare Sable Antelope, among others.
"The National Empowerment Fund has invested R14.1 million on behalf of the Nkumbuleni Community Trust. The Trust has a 100% shareholding in Gradoscope (Pty) Ltd, the operating entity," said the NEF.
The NEF has also invested in the Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge which was established to protect the previously endangered white rhino.
Rhino Ridge, which is a newly constructed lodge of contemporary design, is part owned by the local Mpembeni Community. It offers 22 rooms nestled in natural bush high up on the ridge with commanding views of the landscape.
The National Empowerment Fund has invested R20.5 million towards the project on behalf of the Mpembeni Community Trust. The NEF, the private promoter and the Mpembeni Community Trust each have an equal shareholding of 33.3% in Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge.
In addition, the fund has also invested in the Jozini Tiger Lodge which is situated in the heart of the Zulu Kingdom with its rich heritage and untamed natural beauty.
The National Empowerment Fund has invested R28 million towards funding the Jozini community, who are 16.67% shareholders in the business. The communities' interests are held in the holding company Ntsinde Royal Jozini Holdings.
Meanwhile, the new Park Inn hotel in Polokwane has received a R45 million business loan from the NEF. The hotel is set to open during the last quarter of this year.
The hotel's overall funding requirement is more than R150 million.
The Indaba, which was officially opened by President Jacob Zuma at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre on Tuesday, will conclude on Thursday.