The Premier of Mpumalanga, Refilwe Mtshweni-Tshipane made the announcement during her State of the Nation Address (SOPA) last week, that construction of the long-awaited skywalk and that it would commence and reach completion stage this March. This has since caused mixed feelings on the tour guides in the province over the upcoming construction of a skywalk which will be situated at God’s Window in the Drakensberg in the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve.
The Skywalk will be 12m long, overhanging from the cliff and suspended in the air at approximately 700m high. The lookout point will be modelled on the Grand Canyon Skywalk Arizona. At least, this project is estimated to attract between 45 000 to 60 000 tourists along the panorama tourism route.
According to Gideon Stapelberg, a Freelance National Tour Guide in the province said that he was glad for development, but his main concern would be the scarcity of natural areas to indulge his tourists over.
“Yes, we are excited that our province will receive this new development, however we are concerned that there will not be much of natural areas left. We understand that God’s window will be safe when all this done, but it also means that our tourists will not be able encounter the experience of nature by itself.” he said.
In her speech, Premier Mtshweni-Tshipane said that the Skywalk project, which is Public-private partnerships (PPP) new development, is aimed as an addition to the tourism gems in the province while substantially boosting Mpumalanga’s tourism economy and that of the country at large.
“Our Province is endowed with tourist attractions that encompass scenic beauty, wildlife and diverse heritage. We are in the process of augmenting our natural attractions with artificial and adventurous sites.”
“The tourism industry in the province is one of the most strategic sectors that continue to show growth potential and can create jobs and contribute to economic growth. We certainly have no doubt that this new development will nourish tourists of incomparable views of the canyon and surroundings.” said the Premier.