Discover Your Local Communities on World Tourism Day
On 3 September, Western Cape MEC of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde outlined the Western Cape Government’s plans for Tourism Month from the new Boomslang Treetop Canopy Walk in the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. The 2014 theme for World Tourism Day is Tourism and Community Development and it focuses on the ability of tourism to empower citizens and provide them with services and skills so they can make positive changes in their communities.
Winde said that “linked to this initiative, the national Tourism Department celebrates Tourism Month in September, under the theme Tourism Transforming Lives. In the Western Cape, tourism authorities are urging residents and visitors to discover communities this Tourism Month”, he said.
Community-based tourism gets community members involved in the tourism industry in various ways to stimulate socio-economic growth and to ensure a value-added experience for local and foreign visitors.
It ultimately empowers local citizens to be more aware of the value of their community assets: their culture, heritage, cuisine and lifestyle. It mobilises them to transform these into income-generating projects while offering a more diverse and worthwhile experience to visitors.
Two such community-centred tourism hotspots in the Western Cape are:
- The Guga S’thebe Cultural Centre in Langa is one of Cape Town’s cultural tourism hotspots, and will also be the venue for this year’s signature Tourism Month event on 27 September. It is housed in the Langa Cultural Precinct and is dedicated to the empowerment of the local people. The centre has exhibition areas, where there are regular exhibitions, art studios and a resource centre.
The City of Cape Town will host a series of events at the Guga S’thebe Arts and Culture Centre on 18 and 19 September, including a panel discussion on the role of tourism in community development.
- The !Khwa ttu San Culture and Education Centre near Cape Town gives visitors a fascinating insight into the culture, heritage, knowledge and modern-day life of the San of southern Africa. During a three-hour tour the San will demonstrate their skills, share their ancient knowledge about oral history, tracking animals and identifying plants with you.
The San-guided experience provides a unique opportunity for you to listen to accurate accounts of the past and present lives of the San. By combining adventure, education and relaxation !Khwa ttu will leave visitors with a lasting impression and install a new appreciation and understanding of the San cultural heritage.
A core building block of community-based tourism initiatives is the belief that every citizen can be a potential business partner who can to be trained in small business management, environmental awareness, product development and marketing.
By having such a "people-centred" approach to tourism will in the long run succeed in promoting a sense of ownership amongst citizen which promises to further enhance and strengthen the Western Cape tourism industry. So, be sure to pop-in at one of the province’s wonderful tourism spots for a rich cultural experience on World Tourism Day.
Watch Minister Alan Winde talk about tourism in the Western Cape: