By KHETSIWE KHUMALO | 2023-05-25
Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs Moses Vilakati yesterday officially launched the 30th edition of the Swazi Rally between September 1-3.
The launch which was held at Riders Ranch, Sidvokodvo, had a number of partners in attendance such as Chief Executive Officer of Eswatini Tourism Authority Linda Nxumalo, Hospitality and Tourism Association of Eswatini (HOTAES) Secretary Teagan Ward, Sincephetelo Motor Vehicle Accidents Fund (SMVAF) representatives and other partners.
The minister who recognised that this year marks 30 years of Swazi Rally, applauded the incredible milestone for the founder and visionary, Carlos Paiva and the tourism and biking fraternities at large.
He further applauded the organisers, sponsors and partners who have collectively contributed to keeping the rally active for thus long.
“Thank you for the dedication and the sacrifices you have made towards building the rally to become one of the hallmarks of the kingdom’s finest tourism events. We look forward to the continued effort and support,” Vilakati said.
According to Vilakati, the Swazi Rally organisers had undertaken to support the young entrepreneurs and artists as well as create job opportunities prior to and during the event, in honour of the 30th anniversary.
The minister further shared that the country’s tourism recovery journey after the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic had been astounding.
“To demonstrate this, just in the first quarter of this year alone, we have seen an encouraging surge in the number of tourists entering Eswatini. Statistics gathered between January-March reveal that Eswatini saw a 138.8 per cent increase in international arrivals having recorded 178 742.
This is 103 891 visits more than the figure recorded in the same month in 2022,” he said.
The minister stated that this was tremendous news for the tourism industry and attributed this to events such as Swazi Rally and the upcoming MTN Bushfire festival.
“With this, we are confident that the road to meeting our tourism targets will continue to be ascendable. Allow me to assure you that by 2025, Eswatini will welcome two million tourists, generate E2 billion in tourism receipts and increase the average length of stay in the country to three nights on an annual basis,” he said.
Furthermore, the minister said there would be a programme on road safety, awareness and visibility on the roads, which would be implemented in selected schools after noting with concern that young people were not aware of pedestrians, motorists and motorcyclists’ behaviours.
“Thank you Babe Paiva for once again ensuring the inclusivity of all Emaswati in this festival. I look forward to seeing MVA assist in this endeavour, as well as the rest of the motor industry,” said the minister.
Vilakati also appreciated the donations to be made towards Swazi rally’s corporate social responsibility entity, the Woman Farmer Foundation.
He stated that the organisation was close to his heart because of its ability to cultivate, nurture, and improve lives through agriculture.
“We also appreciate the other charities that bikers groups work with as they also stand to benefit from Swazi Rally. Once again, Mr Paiva we appreciate and acknowledge the enormous financial and social contributions that are made through Swazi Rally in Eswatini,” he said.
Meanwhile, ETA Chief Executive Officer Linda Nxumalo said they had supported the Swazi Rally for five years and pledged to continue moving forward through strategic marketing and promotions.
Paiva further thanked their partners and sponsors such as the banks, petrol companies, MVA and hotels for their continued support.
“MVA puts a lot of energy into advertising and as a result in the last four to five years, Swazi Rally has not had any incidents resulting into casualties,” he said.
Dumisa Dlamini from SMVAF echoed Paiva in that the partnership had resulted in reduced accidents.
He stated that SMVAF was hopeful to move to another era and initiate road safety to other vulnerable road users.
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