31 May 2012 by Julienne du Toit

Heart-warming success stories

Responsible tourism sounds so – well, responsible. Yet it is undoubtedly 1 of the most exciting forms of tourism around, for hosts and visitors. And what an incredible difference it can make in the lives of people…

Betty Hlungwani of Shiluvari Lakeside Lodge. Photo Fair Trade in Tourism SA

There’s a new addition on the Fair Trade in Tourism SA (FTTSA) website I belatedly spotted this week. FTTSA is putting up little ‘postcards’ describing the success stories that are the spin-off of responsible tourism operations.

There are 4 of them up at the moment – 1 from Spier Wine Farm near Stellenbosch, 1 from Shiluvari Lakeside Lodge in Limpopo, 1 from Grootbos Private Game Reserve near Gansbaai, and 1 from !Xaus Lodge in the Kalahari.

Shiluvari Lakeside Lodge staff, including Betty Hlungwani. Photo Chris Marais

In fact I’ve met 1 of the people featured – Betty Hlungwani from Shiluvari. When the lodge was opened in 1994, all Betty had was a positive attitude and experience as a shop assistant. The Girardin Family took her on, and trained her in housekeeping. When I 1st met her in 2003, she was food and beverage manager. She is now lodge manager and will probably soon be receiving equity in the lodge.

What about Viola Siyotywa of Grootbos Private Game Reserve, between Stanford and Gansbaai in the Overberg area of the Western Cape? She had no job experience at all when she spotted an advertisement to be trained as part of the Grootbos Foundation's Growing the Future College. The college takes on a small number of people every year and teaches them about growing indigenous gardens, horticulture and life skills.

Fair Trade in Tourism will keep on profiling these little success stories. Good. They remind us all what a marvellously uplifting industry tourism can be.

Despite her lack of experience, Viola did so well that she is now 1 of the life-skills trainers, working on a permanent basis at the college. Through Grootbos, she achieved her dream of getting a Higher Diploma in Adult Education and Training.

Bernie Samuels has started up a laundry business with Spier as client. Photo FTTSA

Bernie Samuels, a father of 4 who had been retrenched twice, got a new lease on life when Spier restructured certain of its laundry requirements. Bernie won the bid to do it, and since then has been able to build up a little business for himself, his family and 5 other previously unemployed people.

He’s able to give his children a better education and better food.

Ellen Bok of !Xaus Lodge, on a field trip to Cape Town. Photo FTTSA.

Then there’s the story of Ellen Bok, who played a critical role in helping create !Xaus Lodge, the only private concession in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The lodge is owned by the communities of the Khomani San and Mier. Ellen, who had no previous work experience, has progressed from kitchen hand to assistant manager.

I’m told that the Fair Trade in Tourism will keep on profiling these little success stories. Good. They remind us all what a marvellously uplifting industry tourism can be.

Shiluvari Lakeside Lodge in the Limpopo province, 1 of the 1st Fair Trade in Tourism-accredited properties. Photo Chris Marais.

Category: Responsible Tourism

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