“One in 10 jobs in South Africa is directly or indirectly linked to tourism,” said Gillian Saunders, Special Advisor to Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom, at the recent postgraduate heritage and cultural tourism colloquium “Tourism, Travel and Trends”, adding that tourism is vital to South Africa’s economy because it’s a renewable resource that can only grow with better tourist experiences.
The colloquium was hosted by UP’s Department of Historical and Heritage Studies which Prof Vasu Reddy, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, commended in his opening address for its pioneering work and for 20 years of producing tourism professionals. “Heritage and cultural tourism was one of the first interdisciplinary degrees across departments as well as faculties. The course includes modules from the disciplines of History, Archaeology, Anthropology, Languages and Tourism Management. Due to the uniqueness of the degree, enrolments at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels have continued to grow since inception in 1998. We currently have more than 400 first-year students.”
Ms Gillian Saunders (Special Advisor to the Minister of Tourism) guest speaker at the Tourism, Travel and Trends Colloquium
He also praised department head Prof Karen Harris’ invitation as a keynote speaker at the World Federation of Tourist Guide Association’s conference in Tbilisi, Georgia next year as international recognition of the contribution that the department is making.
The colloquium showcased research conducted by postgraduate students on various subjects such as disability tourism, film tourism, destination development, cultural festivals, pro-poor tourism, tourist guiding, virtual tourism and the use of technology in contemporary tourism studies. It also highlighted how these themes within heritage and cultural tourism are explored on a local, national, continental and international level. Prof Harris said it was imperative that these findings reached a broader audience and that students were given continued opportunity to present their research.
DHHS postgraduate students who presented their research at the Colloquium
Poster by DHHS for the NDT collaboration research project on Indigenous Storytelling
With regard to the Memorandum of Understanding between UP and the NDT, She is particularly proud of the results of the department’s collaboration with the National Department of Tourism. This seven-year partnership has impacted on the new national policy on tourist guiding, the development of a cross-border training programme – a first in southern Africa – as well as other research initiatives that have led to consultation from both the public and private sector. The alliance has also helped to build synergy between private, public, academic and research capacities in the tourism sector, which in turn helps to create research-informed policy. The collaboration has also helped to resource and capacitate the DHHS to be able to do this.