New youth programme fosters future SA tourism ambassadors

2017-10-03 14:30 - Unathi Nkanjeni
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Picture: twitter

Cape Town - The Tourism Deputy Minister, Elizabeth Thabethe, has announced the launch of the inaugural OR Tambo Youth Exchange Programme at the OR Tambo Cultural Precinct.

“Government has declared 2017 the Year of OR Tambo and as such, we named this programme after Oliver Tambo, a renowned leader who travelled around many parts of the world mobilising societies to fight the injustices of the apartheid government," says Thabethe.

In partnership with the Department of Tourism, OR Tambo District Municipality and Ekurhuleni Metro, Thebethe says this programme allows school children to explore and learn more about Oliver Tambo with the aim of fostering future tourism ambassadors and travellers, who can sustain history, heritage and the legacy of OR Tambo as well as South Africa.

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To date, the exchange programme has allowed two hundred learners from OR Tambo District Municipality to visit Gauteng attractions, including the OR Tambo Cultural Precinct, with the same number from Ekurhuleni visiting the birthplace of OR Tambo in Mbizana Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape. 

Thabethe urges stakeholders to work towards greater inclusivity and transformation through practical programmes like the OR Tambo Youth Exchange Programme.

“The majority of the previously disadvantaged communities cannot afford to travel due to financial constraints and unavailability of packages for social tourism," she adds. "It is based on this background that there is a need to promote social tourism objectives through awareness and educational trips for schools in order to promote the benefits of social tourism products and social cohesion.”

The learners, according to the Department of Tourism, were delighted to be part of the programme as many of them never travelled as tourists before.

They explored and learned more about the history of Oliver Tambo, shared their experiences and vowed to do more social tourism.

According to the Department, social tourism speaks to programmes, events, and activities that enable all population groups – particularly youth, families, retirees, individuals with modest incomes, and individuals with restricted physical capacity – to enjoy tourism, while also attending to the quality of relations between visitors and host.

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Added to this, this initiative seeks to address the gaps identified in the Domestic Tourism Growth Strategy, which include seasonality and uneven geographic spread. 

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