2012 was another good year for South Africa: it expanded its brand further afield. And at home, the IDC expanded its impact into areas not traditionally covered by its mandate.
In 2012, South Africa was again in the international spotlight when it was announced on 25 May that the nation would share the Square Kilometre Array – the huge radio telescope project – with Australia. South Africa is contributing two-thirds of SKA International, while Australia is to contribute one third. It has been called Nasa for Africa and the World Cup of science, and is the biggest science project in the world.
Then, on 15 July, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was elected chair of the AU Commission, essentially making her the leader of the African Union. She took office on 15 October, the first woman to hold the position and a sign that gender equality is making strides across the continent.
Closer to home, Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel launched the National Development Plan 2030 on 15 August. Entitled "Our future – make it work", it focuses on the elimination of poverty and creating employment.
The Industrial Development Corporation was doing just that, and in 2012 it opened the R40-million Windtown Lagoon Resort and Spa in Langebaan on the West Coast. The area is a focal point for kite surfing and other water sports, drawing tourists to its endless beaches and lagoon – Langebaan is recognised as one of the world’s top kitesurfing and windsurfing hotspots. Windtown reflects the IDC’s focus to fund projects that have potential to create employment opportunities in far-flung regions, in this case in Western Cape.
The resort also underscores the strategy of the IDC's Tourism Strategic Business Unit to develop untapped tourism nodes such as sports and adventure tourism. Windtown Lagoon Resort and Spa is a 35-room facility and employs about 40 people in a region that has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. This swells to over 60 during the peak November/December holiday season, when foreign and local tourists visit.
The Atlantic Ocean is barely a five-minute walk from the resort. Its cold, flat water and perfect winds draw kitesurfers and windsurfers from around the world, and the owners have set up a kite surfing school next door, meaning visitors can learn the sport while on holiday. Windtown offers the newest equipment for rent or to buy and attractive packages.
"Over the past decade, the number of middle-income households has grown exponentially, yet not much effort is being made to attract this market," Christine Engelbrecht, head of the IDC's Tourism Strategic Business Unit said at the time. "Prospects in local tourism are visibly improving and the medium-term outlook is indeed encouraging. To prepare the industry for growth and creation of employment opportunities, we need to diversify our product offering to include developing untapped tourism nodes such as sports and adventure tourism."
But it's not just about the sport. Windtown's spa offers a wide range of treatments, such as massage therapies and facials. There is also a sauna. The onsite restaurant, Breeze, combines healthy, fresh and seasonal cuisine with local delicacies, such as fresher than fresh seafood, and a well-balanced wine list.