As a proudly South African publication, we are the first to admit that every now and then we can get a little emotional about the Big G that is Gauteng.
So this year, the Leading Venues editorial team, roped in some people in the real know when it comes to all this things travel, venue and local for some fresh insights.
Chief Quality Assurance Officer, Darryl Erasmus from the South African Tourism Grading Council weighs in on the pace and race of Gauteng.
Darryl sums it up at the start, “Gauteng has a very different vibe to the rest of the country. The pace is quicker, the pulse stronger and I’m sure it is all attributable to the province being the economic epicenter of the country.
We couldn’t agree more. “You can feel the energy and vibe of this dynamic province from the moment you arrive. The offerings of this powerhouse are not limited to commerce and industry which is supported by world-class infrastructure.”
Darryl’s not bragging when he talks about Gauteng’s impressive tourism contribution – #truestory – with Johannesburg, Pretoria, Soweto, Cullinan and Magaliesburg all ranking as top attractions. “Visitors can explore historical and cultural sites that reflect the country’s embattled past while experiencing distinctly African cities with networks of malls, casinos, flea markets, theatres and playhouses.”
He contemplates the dichotomy of the city “Beyond the bustling metropole is natural beauty that will make you forget you are just a few minutes away from the ultra-modern cityscapes. From the Highveld grasslands, vast savannahs that feature a number of game reserves and botanical gardens, charming riverside towns in the Vaal and Haartbeespoort; to the popular Cradle of Humankind and Sterkfontein Caves – there is no shortage of spots for a “city” break out.”
Darryl’s personal favourite piece of Gauteng history is Constitutional Court., “A visit to Constitution Hill is always unforgettable and very emotional. What once was one of South Africa’s most oppressive sites has been repurposed as a celebration of our democracy and freedom as a nation.”
As for why Gauteng is the ideal spot for events and conferences, Darryl’s experience rolls to the foreground “International business has come to trust the country’s sound financial system, highly regulated banking sector and our infrastructure is world-class. From transport networks which include OR Tambo International airport and the Gautrain; the vast array and size of accommodation facilities as well as meeting venues. All of these factors make Gauteng a truly global competitor on the Meetings, Conferencing and Exhibitions space.
The province has hosted some of the country’s biggest conferences and exhibitions. Johannesburg is home to the province’s top four conference and expo venues. One of the venues is of course the world-class Sandton Convention Centre in the heart of the élite Sandton surburb with a multitude of premium hotels with full business facilities, restaurants catering to a diverse palate and a shopping experience considered the best in Africa at Sandton City.
As for the must do activities according to Darryl? “Soweto is a very popular Gauteng destination – not just for the history of the township and the role it played in the struggle for democracy in South Africa. But, also for the unique cultural experiences it offers from cuisine to adventure tourism. Visitors can bungee jump from Soweto’s iconic Orlando Towers or go sightseeing on a guided bicycle tour before sitting down to a chesa nyama at sunset.
Another must do is a day spent exploring Johannesburg inner city life in Maboneng District which has fast become the modern cultural heart of South Africa’s largest city. The district is part of the city’s exciting regeneration and is home to an integrated, mixed-use community, where creative people and young entrepreneurs play, live and work in studios, art galleries, boutique shops, restaurants and coffee bars.