Cape Town – SA Tourism minister Derek Hanekom says the youth in Africa plays a crucial role in protecting and promoting the heritage of the continent.
The minister was speaking at the African World Heritage forum at the Nelson Mandela Gateway in Cape Town on Monday, 2 May. He says the role of preserving our heritage through our young people in today’s world “goes far beyond biological survival”.
“We look to you to take up the next phase of human development, to build on what has gone before you, to discover, to innovate, and to change the world into a much better place for everyone. To look after our planet. To care for the less fortunate. To correct the mistakes and excesses of the generations before you.”
Hanekom noted Heritage travel in South Africa was on the rise, diversifying the country's offering, beyond just wildlife, and growing visitor numbers and strengthening its status as a preferred tourism destination.
“Tourists are seeking more meaningful experiences,” Hanekom says. “And by growing visitor numbers through heritage tourism, we are improving tourism’s overall contribution to jobs and to the economy,” Hanekom says.
He said the Department of Tourism is working to further improve heritage tourism destinations in the country.
Referring to the gateway to Robben Island where he was speaking, he said, “We have improved interpretive signage at these sites.
“On Robben Island we will be installing a renewable energy source later this year, we will be training guides to improve the experience of tourists, and digitising important historical records to preserve them for future generations.”
Robben Island is undergoing various changes, including the prospect of offering overnight accommodation in heritage houses on the island.
SEE: Robben Island soon to offer overnight stays
Hanekom also says connectivity in SA contributes greatly to tourism, and tapping into youth travel as a form of global advertisement for the country should be prioritized.
“The travelling youth of today are leading the charge for more meaningful cultural experiences. They are relying on their mobile connection to make their way around the world, and constantly sharing experiences on social media. To meet the growing demand, providing WiFi services at tourism establishments is the new norm, not an exception.”
Various tourism bodies in SA have seen the value of this connectivity. In Nelson Mandela Bay, a free Wi-Fi initiative was launched by the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Dr Siyabonga Cwele on 15 April this year.
Table Mountain also tapped into the Insta generation by launching a new Wi-Fi lounge on the very top of the Natural World Wonder.
READ: Nelson Mandela Bay launches FREE Wi-Fi + 5 ways they rock Instagram
Hanekom challenged the African youth at the Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island, saying it is their responsibility to “appreciate the heritage that has been bestowed upon us”, and to change the world for the better for everyone.
What to read next on Traveller24:
- SA Tourism sets niche themes for Indaba speed marketing
- 7 SA escapes making the simplest eco difference
- Saving Elephants: It’s not just about burning ivory