HOD presents at International Tourist Guide Day celebrations in the Northern Cape

Posted on April 17, 2023

On 17 March 2023, Professor Karen Harris (Head of Department: Historical and Heritage Studies) from the University of Pretoria delivered a keynote address to delegates, practitioners and community members as part of the International Tourist Guide’s Day celebrations in South Africa. In her presentation entitled “The role of the Indigenous Story Tellers (ISTs) in the tourism value chain”, Professor Harris focused on the potential of storytelling as an inherent component within indigenous communities. She also emphasised how the sybiosis between these two components can be utilised to add a “new touristic layer” and “novel experiential dimension” to the holistic tourism value chain (demand and supply). She advocated for the implementation, application and realisation of ISTs by using what she termed the “I-factor”: interrogate, innovate, ideate, inspire, invent, intermediate and invest. 

Professor Harris stressed the need for accredited culture tourist guides to mediate between ISTs and visiting tourists (domestic or international) to promote an inclusive and transformative travel space for all stakeholders and role players to partake in. In the presentation and within a specifically South African context, she called for the upliftment of ISTs to provincial and national legislation, regulations and policy frameworks. She argued that the latter would enhance their status within the tourism value chain and lead to the subsequent empowerment of the culture guide’s roles and responsibilities whilst on tour to these indigenous settings. Professor Harris concluded her presentation by noting that the tourism industry needs to go beyond the “status quo” and embrace ISTs and tourist guides as key drivers of sustainable change in the short and long term. 

Entrance to the conference in the #Khomani Cultural Landscape

This annual event took place in Askham in the Z.F. Mgcawu District Municipality in the northernmost part of the Northern Cape province of South Africa. The event was partly organised by the Ministry of Tourism, the Northern Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism, and the Northern Cape Tourism Authority. It was structured around the theme, “Recovery and beyond: The future of tourist guiding”. Apart from various public and private sector officials, the event was also attended by the President of the World Federation of Tourist Guides Association (WFTGA), Ms Alushca Ritchie; Ms Mmaditonki Setwaba, National Registrar of Tourist Guides, Department of Tourism; Dr Mmboneni Muofhe, Deputy Director-General: Socio-Economic Innovation Partnership, Department of Science and Innovation (DSI); as well as community members of the #Khomani Cultural Landscape Heritage Site. 

Professor Harris and Alushca Ritchie, President of the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations

*The concept of an “Indigenous Story Teller (IST) was coined in 2018 by the team of researchers in the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies at the University of Pretoria as part of the commissioned project for the Ministry of Tourism entitled, “The Indigenous Story Teller (IST): The Northern Cape as a case study”.

Guided walking-tours during the event emphasising the need for storytelling to enhance a cultural destination’s image. 

- Author C.R. Botha

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