On the Free State side of the border of the Maloti Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site a CCA is slowly but surely taking shape with the facilitation of the MDTP Coordination Unit. The proposed 26 000ha Witsishoek CCA includes communal land under the management of the Batlokoa and the Bakwena Traditional Authorities in Qwaqwa. The area constitutes an important buffer zone for the World Heritage Site. The week of 25 to 29 May 2015 will hopefully be remembered as marking an important milestone as the communitiesmet, with facilitation from the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and MDTP, and formerly confirmed their agreement towards the establishment of the CCA which will be declared as a protected environment as per the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act (NEMPAA) (Act No. 57 of 2003). The Free State Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DESTEA) under whose jurisdiction the CCA lies has now taken over the declaration process.
The whole idea of the Witsishoek CCA was borne out of efforts to further consolidate the support that was being provided to the Batlokoa community through the rehabilitation of their Witsishoek Mountain Resort sitting right on the edge of the World Heritage Site but in the Free State Province. Prior to the start of the rehabilitation process, the Batlokoa community owned resort was highly dilapidated with occupancy rates of around 10%, if not less. MDTP’s support to the resort started with the development of a business plan which was followed by a presentation to an investor’s conference in 2008. It was at this conference that Transfrontier Parks Destinations, a private company that invests in tourism facilities in a couple of Transfrontier Parks and TFCAs, took up the challenge to invest and provide management support to the resort. This was also followed by a R20m grant support for rehabilitation of the resort from the then Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT). The rehabilitation process is expected to be completed by the end of 2015 and already occupancy rates are reported to have more than doubled.