Community-based tourism recently received a significant boost with the launch of WOWZULU by Africa Ignite in KwaZulu Natal (KZN), an initiative that seeks to create inclusive tourist destination that serve as a best-case South African model for the sector.
Africa Ignite is a non-profit rural development agency that supports rural women, youth and emerging entrepreneurs across KZN. The WOWZULU Marketplaces connect the commercial and community tourism areas’ and are models of green environmental practices.
South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Tourism, Elizabeth Thabethe, launched the project at the Luthuli Museum in Groutville in KZN on Friday (November 2),saying: “The first phase of the project focuses on supporting tourist guides in emerging community tourism, eateries selling local cuisine, youth owned coffee outlets, craft entrepreneurs, storytelling performers and dancers in Isandlwana Battlefields in the Nqutu area, Ohlange in the Inanda Valley, Ballito in the North Coast, Tembe in the Far North, KwaNzimakwe in the South Coast, Khula Village in St. Lucia Wetlands Park and eMazizizni Village in the Northern Drakensberg.”
Already implemented in seven tourist destination in KZN, the project is expected to inspire district municipalities across the country to become more sustainable environmentally, socially and economically, while providing opportunities for the rural unemployed.
“Responsible tourism is of paramount importance to the tourism sector, hence South Africa was the first country to include this concept in its national tourism policy, the 1996 White Paper on the Development and Promotion of Tourism in South Africa,” said Thabethe.
Citing the document, the Deputy Minister said responsible tourism is an approach to the management of tourism aimed at maximizing economic, social and environmental benefits and minimizing costs to destinations.
According to Thabethe, South Africa is the pioneer of responsible tourism standards while the country came in second only to Brazil in having a national minimum standard on responsible tourism.
“The historic launch is opening opportunities for growth and development of the tourism sector while contributing to the objective of the National Development Plan and the national imperative to fight poverty, unemployment and inequality,” mentioned Thabethe.
The Deputy Minister commended the partnership of Africa Ignite, Better Tourism Africa, One Planet-Handle with Care’ Trust Fund, including the United Nationals Environment Fund with the National Department of Tourism to ensure that the local environment, economy and society benefit through the project.
ILembe District Municipality Deputy Mayor, Dolly Shandu, representing Enterprise iLembe, expressed appreciation that the project was empowering women.
Her counterpart in the KwaDukuza municipality, Deputy Mayor Councillor Dolly Govender said that the programme will promote tourism to showcase the four blue drop beaches in the area.
For more information, click here.