Just outside Graaff-Reinet on Samara Private Game Reserve, Pokkie (Karel) Benadie is out tracking with his seven students. “Look at this,” he says, pointing to a newly dug shallow trench. “Anyone know what this is?” Everyone is puzzled. “Last night a porcupine was digging for roots and bulbs here,” he says, “and these are his tracks when he left.” read more
Winner of the BHP Billiton Achiever Award and the Mail & Guardian Investing in the Future Education Award in 2012
Although Africa currently accounts for only 4% of the global tourism market, the continent’s wealth of natural diversity offers a unique opportunity to expand this market through nature-based tourism. In order to capitalise on the rapid growth of tourism worldwide, ecotourism destinations in Africa – and southern Africa specifically – need professional staff and the necessary infrastructure to cater for those who come to experience Africa’s natural wonders.
The SA College for Tourism has recognised these opportunities and provides professional training for hospitality staff and trackers.
The SA College for Tourism was established in 2001 by Dr Anton Rupert, renowned financier and philanthropist and at the time chairman of Peace Parks Foundation, in partnership with international agencies and public donors. The college operates under the auspices of Peace Parks Foundation and, like the foundation, supports the principles of responsible tourism, maximising benefits and minimising negative impacts.
It is the first training centre in southern Africa to focus its training programmes on the development of operational and management skills for the lodge and guesthouse industry. In addition, it offers courses in the age-old skill of wildlife tracking to preserve this precious indigenous knowledge. Every year 90 young women and 16 young men – all unemployed and from impoverished rural backgrounds – are sponsored for a year-long training course in hospitality service skills and tracking skills respectively.
The Drostdy Hotel annually offers internships and learnerships to hospitality graduates and serves as an operational training area for the college students. Hotel profits are ploughed back into the training of hospitality students at the college.
One of the outcomes of the establishment of transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs) or peace parks in southern Africa is creating an economically sustainable livelihood for the people living in or adjacent to these parks. It is the aim of the SA College for Tourism to return its graduates to their villages and towns to work in the lodges and guesthouses and for the game reserves that form part of the tourism infrastructure of these peace parks. Upon graduation, these young people are also equipped to establish themselves as entrepreneurs in small tourism businesses.
To date, 92% of hospitality graduates and 94% of Tracker Academy graduates have found permanent employment.
SA College for Tourism has a formal training and human development alliance with Bergplaas Private Nature Reserve. The college and its Tracker Academy have maintained a successful and mutually beneficial relationship with Bergplaas Private Nature Reserve and its Spirit of the Wild Programme since 2012. In terms of the alliance, the Spirit of the Wild Programme annually hosts two groups of eight students from Tracker Academy for a one-week Spirit of the Wild training programme on Bergplaas Nature Reserve. In addition, Bergplaas annually hosts two hospitality graduates and one tracker graduate from the SA College for Tourism and its Tracker Academy respectively for a one-year internship.
In 2012 the college won the following two awards:
BHP Billiton Achiever Award – Best Training Programme: Tourism
Mail & Guardian Investing in the Future Education Award
The SA College for Tourism is a non-profit organisation.
Public benefit organisation number: 18/11/13/349
Non-Profit Organisation Number: 080-778-NPO
Should you like to know more about the college, please contact André Kilian, Executive Director, on +27 (0)49 892 2244.