UP DHHS co-hosts second biennial ATLAS Africa Conference

Posted on April 30, 2024

In commemoration of three decades of democracy in South Africa, the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies (DHHS) in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria (UP) co-hosted the second biennial Association for Tourism and Leisure Education and Research (ATLAS) Africa Conference on 26 April 2024. This international conference organized by ATLAS Executive Board Members and ATLAS Africa Coordinators Professor Karen Harris (Head of Department) and Mr. C.R. Botha (DHHS Lecturer) aimed to consider sovereign African states and how they have gone about repositioning, developing and advancing their tourism, hospitality and leisure spaces in recent years after becoming independent democracies in the 20th and 21st centuries. The conference was thus appropriately themed: “Tourism after freedom: Democratic Africa”.

Presenters, participants and attendees were welcomed by Professor Tara Duncan, President of Africa, whereafter the conference was opened by Professor Sunil Maharaj (UP Vice Principal: Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Education) and Dr Shamilla Chettair (Ministry of Tourism, Deputy-Director General: Destination Development) who both underscored the importance of continued research into tourism, hospitality and leisure niches, especially on the African continent at large, stressing its potential for graduate employment and sustainable development.

In total 36 papers were presented, to an audience of over 75 delegates from 15 countries across Africa and beyond. In addition, 12 online sessions were held, on 11 themes directly related to travel market segments across the African sub-continent. That included:

  • “African tourism then and now”;
  • “African tourism and reflections”
  • “African tourism and touristic experiences”;
  • “African tourism and employment”;
  • “African tourism and destination development”;
  • “African tourism and sustainability” (Session 1 and 2);
  • “African tourism and natural spaces”;
  • “African tourism and cultural spaces”
  • “African tourism and hospitality spaces”;
  • “African tourism and leisure spaces”; and
  • “African tourism and digital spaces”.

UP had a sizeable presenter presence at this international event with numerous staff members and postgraduate students delivering papers, chairing sessions and leading critical debates from an array of multi- and transdisciplinary perspectives. The UP Faculties of Humanities, Education, Natural and Agricultural Sciences, as well as Economic Management Sciences were represented. That included:

  • K.L. Harris – “Telling stories – story telling: African touristic tales”.
  • C.R. Botha – “The “Triple-P tourist guiding model”: Streamlining policy, practice and professionalism for Africa”.
  • H. Engelbrecht – “Streaming South African stories: Changing place narratives and inducing tourism”.
  • M. Matsoso – “Women’s well-being and doing well in the South African heritage and cultural tourism sector?”.
  • R. Henning – “Urban tourism: Upping Tshwane’s potential”.
  • M. Bester – “Tourism on track: Tracing early train travel in South Africa”.
  • M. Rheeder – “Possessing or borrowing: The sustained impact of digital nomads”.
  • C. Arukwe – “African tourism before and after independence (1950 to date): A comparative analysis”.
  • O.O. Uwagboe – “A history of the Nigerian Federal Government’s national tourism governance system, 1962 – 2006”.
  • K. Tlabela & A. Douglas, “The role of Visitor Information Centres (VICs) in creating socio-economic opportunities for surrounding communities in South Africa”.
  • H. Fisher & G. Du Rand – “The culinary arts subject and responsive curriculum: Putting tourism on the African menu”.
  • C. Van der Merwe – “Contested heritage(s) – The case(s) of the Battle of Blood River, South Africa”.
  • P. Warinda & C. Van der Merwe – “An exploration of community-based tourism and local participation in Zimbabwe”.

The conference received outstanding reviews from an array of national, continental and international stakeholders for its initiative to not only enhance Pan-African collaborations but also to promote the strategic objectives of the African Union (AU) so as to reach the United Nations’ (UN) various Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the near future. DHHS and UP looks forward to again host this highly successful conference again in 2026.

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