The Department of Historical and Heritage Studies (DHHS) once again represented the University of Pretoria (UP) at the 7th Annual National Department of Tourism’s (NDT) Research Seminar, held at the Southern Sun Hotel in Pretoria on 15 March 2019. This annual event has formed an integral part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 2012 by both UP and NDT that aims to grow tourism research at institutions of higher learning.
This year the event focussed on the National Tourism Sector’s Strategy for 2020 to “recognize research as one of the key success factors for sustainable competitiveness in destination management and its importance in guiding planning as well as decision making for the sector at large”. This aligns with NDT’s strategy of “advancing research for tourism growth and development”.
For the 2018 – 2019 financial year DHHS focussed and presented on two studies within the broader destination development realm that included Research Reports showcasing the potential development of cross-border tourism route experiences, as well as frameworks to create an inclusive and transformative tourist guiding sector, both in the southern African region. These annual studies are overseen by principal-investigator Professor Karen Harris (Head of Department) accompanied by co-researchers: C.R. Botha, H. Engelbrecht, T. Morolong and S. Pretorius, on the Research Skills Development Project.
The first Research Report, “Cross-border themed tourism routes in the southern Africa region: Practice and potential” presented by Prof Harris and researched and written together with Hannes Engelebrecht and Sian Pretorius focussed on the untapped potential of cross-border tourism and how toolkits they developed can further be utilised to “creatively diversify the experience dimension of the tourist offering”. The study also placed emphasis on the film tourism potential of the mentioned region by highlighting the “Wakanda Experience Route” as a potential cross-border themed tourism route to be practically explored. For the first time a postgraduate student, Hannes Engelbrecht was invited to present a paper at the seminar. His paper, “Panthers and Places: Filmic representation and destination image” relates to his Masters research.
The second Research Report, “The Indigenous Story Teller (IST): The Northern Cape as a case study”, also presented by Prof Harris, was researched and written together with CR Botha and Tiffaney Morolong. This in turn focussed on how the culture tourist guide in a South African context can utilise the authentic and diverse collection of local voices to enhance the overall visitors experience, without commoditizing the indigenous communities culture and/or destroying their sacred landscape. The study also suggests how this model can be applied generically throughout South Africa with the range of indigenous and marginalised voices that abound.
The event was attended by various public and private stakeholders from across the South African tourism industry. The previously mentioned MoU between NDT and UP has also been extended for the 2019 – 2020 financial year.