Did you know that in South Africa alone approximately one in twenty people rely directly on the tourism industry for employment? And that Africa is home to the world’s largest youth demographic, a sector that is expected to double by 2055? Armed with these facts, you’ll understand why an advancement of skills in Africa is both necessary and urgent to ensure the existence of tourism-industry professionals who have been sourced from local communities so as to impart an authentic and culturally relevant exchange when managing tourism facilities and providing a quality local service to international patrons. It is therefore critical that eco-tourism models are implemented and sustained, and that communities understand the importance of wildlife conservation and what it means to their future. If you consider that tourism is a bigger industry than farming, fishing and forestry combined – it should come as no surprise to learn that tourism is without doubt the one industry that can solve our unemployment crisis in Africa.
Implementing this vision often proves more difficult, for while the landscape and animals provide the canvas, it is most often those one-on-one intimate experiences with locals that completes it. It is for these reasons that we support the SA College For Tourism (SACT). Founded by Dr. Anton Rupert in 2001, SACT is a non-profit organization that operates under Peace Parks Foundation and was developed in partnership with the various Rupert Family Foundations, as well as other international agencies and public donors. Based in Graaff Reinet, the college provides professional training to unemployed men and women from rural backgrounds, ensuring that upon graduation they are equipped to take up skilled positions in nature-based tourism. In addition to hospitality training, the college offers tracker training through its Tracker Academy where the age-old skill of wildlife tracking, as well as eco-herding skills at (the ancient skill of herding livestock to sustainably preserve nature) the Herding Academy, is taught.
The end goal is that graduates are able to return to their communities as entrepreneurs with small tourism businesses, or to work as part of the local eco-tourism industry within or around conservation areas. Since its inception, SACT has trained over 1,000 women in operational and management skills for the hospitality industry while 74 trackers have graduated from the Tracker Academy.
For Eco-tourism areas to work across southern Africa and to prove self-sustainable over the long-term, it is vital to develop tourism with high experiential value in order to encourage return guests. I have no doubt that without the development of programs like SACT, it’s simply not possible to achieve this.
As a result, at ROAR AFRICA, we only work with those properties that support this philosophy. And whether they are aware of it or not, each and every one of our guests make a contribution to the economic success of programs like this by virtue of traveling with us. Observing how these programs work and meeting some of Africa’s future leaders on your travels with us, provides an insiders lens to understanding the challenges as to why travel matters.
If you would like to know more about the South African College of Tourism, or if you’d like us to include a visit to the college as part of your itinerary when you’re next in South Africa, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.