‡Khomani Cultural Landscape declared SA's ninth World Heritage Site

Streek / Regional

The tourism sector welcomes the an-nouncement of the ‡Khomani Cultu-ral Landscape as South Africa's ninth World Heritage Site,” said Minister of Tour-ism Tokozile Xasa on Wednesday 12 July 2017.
The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) inscribed the ‡Khomani Cultural Land-scape on its prestigious list of world heri-tage sites earlier this month.
The area, which has now been recogni-sed by UNESCO as a site of universal value, covers the entire Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and is part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park bordering Botswana and Namibia.
The ‡Khomani and related San people are the ancestors of the entire human race. They descend directly from an ancient group of people who inhabited Southern Africa about 150 000 years ago.
"This exciting announcement brings with it prospects of development for South Africa and our neighbours, but it has global signi-ficance that extends far beyond our region," said Minister Xasa.
"The recognition will focus world attention on this iconic site and its role in the devel-opment of modern humans. This is where we all came from.
"We join our colleagues in the Depart-ment of Environmental Affairs in welcoming global recognition of our people and our cul-tural heritage. Minister Edna Molewa and her team are the official custodians of the site, but this achievement belongs to all the people of South Africa. 
"This is the heritage that our entire nation should treasure and preserve. We will take a government approach to ensure that all development takes into account the need to protect and preserve this unique environ-ment, the cultural practices of the local people, and all the heritage aspects of this amazing cultural landscape," said Minister Xasa.
"While we are still in the very early days following the announcement, we can be sure that the benefits of tourism develop-ment in the region will make a big difference in the lives of the local communities in the future," she said.
Minister Xasa said that the announce-ment also opens further possibilities to ex-plore the integrated development of tourism in the Southern African region, especially with neighbouring countries of Namibia and Botswana.
"The interest in this site is likely to spread further north through the African continent. We are always willing to work with our African counterparts to link and co-develop cultural and heritage products for the benefit of regional tourism, which makes a significant contribution to many economies on the continent.
"We congratulate our counterparts in An-gola and Eritrea for the simultaneous in-scription of UNESCO sites in their coun-tries. These announcements once again demonstrate the unique cultural and heri-tage tourism assets we have in Africa. We must work together to convert these assets into economic and social benefits, without negatively impacting on the environment, the culture and the dignity of people past and present," Ms Xasa said.
"We applaud the local communities in the area for their efforts to preserve their culture. This acknowledgement of the universal significance of the site will formalise and consolidate the continued preservation of ancient cultural practices and traditions," added Minister Xasa.
The ‡Khomani Cultural Landscape is asso-ciated with a unique culture which goes back to the Stone Age. The landscape has re-
mained relatively unchanged since humans were hunter-gatherers, and is managed by South African National Parks.
The other eight World Heritage Sites in South Africa are the Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa, Maloti-Drakensberg Park, Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape, Vredefort Dome, Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape, Robben Island Museum, iSi-mangaliso Wetland Park and the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas. Ministry of Tourism