The tourism sector is the largest, global, market-based contributor to financing protected area systems. For transfrontier conservation areas across southern Africa to become self-sustainable over the long-term, it is vital to develop tourism offerings in these areas that are of a standard and with sufficient experiential value to generate return customers. In so doing it would be possible to capitalize on tourism’s economic promise to ensure that natural resources endure for years to come. However, this requires a large base of skilled tourism-industry professionals, that can provide effective management of tourism facilities, and international quality service to patrons.
One of the outcomes identified for the establishment of transfrontier conservation areas in southern Africa, is creating economically sustainable livelihoods for people living in or adjacent to these parks. Tourism stimulates economic growth and job creation. In South Africa approximately 1 in 20 people directly rely on the tourism industry for employment.
The SA College for Tourism (SACT) is a non-profit organisation (PBO 18/11/13/349; 080-778-NPO) that operates under the auspices of Peace Parks Foundation. It was established in 2001 by Dr Anton Rupert, renowned financier and philanthropist and at the time chairman of Peace Parks Foundation, and developed in partnership with the Rupert Family Foundations, as well as other international agencies and public donors.
The college provides professional training to unemployed men and women from impoverished rural backgrounds, to equip them to take up skilled positions in the nature-based tourism industry. In addition to hospitality training, the college offers tracker training through its Tracker Academy, as well as eco-herding skills through a newly launched Herding Academy. 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.