Eco-tourism can be used as a tool to motivate for responsible visits to natural areas that maintain the integrity of the ecosystem while producing economic benefits for local communities and thereby championing conservation. Training of community members to be eco-tour guides will not only empower them but also inspire the community to take better care of their natural resources. In a region such as the Kogelberg which is blessed with bountiful natural beauty but offers a dearth of livelihood options, eco-tourism provides the perfect opportunity for community members to diversify their livelihood options.
As one of the many community-based organisations in the area, WWF-SA has partnered with stakeholders involved in the tourism sector to assist in boosting the sector in the Kogelberg region. Five (5) members of the community are given an opportunity to be trained and become qualified eco-tour guides. The trainees will participate in the planning, coordination, and implementation of an eco-tourism programme, which will focus on creating a sustainable tourism sector.
The training began in September 2020 and is facilitated by Contour Training Academy (Contour Enviro Group). Upon completion, the participants, among other things will be able to conduct a guided experience within a specific area that entertains and educates tourists by interpreting cultural and natural environments; research, use and plan an itinerary themselves; present authentic, balanced interpretation of general aspects of South African society as well as specific sites and resources; and professionally and ethically conduct themselves in front of clients. Details of planned events will be shared with the WWF-SASSI supporters and for those that are interested in supporting these 5 eco-tour guides who hail from poverty-stricken communities, to establish themselves as a thriving community-based business.
Kholofelo Ramokone, WWF-SA Fisheries Project Officer