Through tourism and destination travelling, people are given the opportunity to engage other cultures, learn about how other people live, eat, sing and dance, and receive a blessing, so to speak, to experience different cultural understandings.

Senior tourism officials from around South Africa enjoyed the opportunity to be part of an energetic tour to Freedom Park in Pretoria as a practical component to their delegation on the Capacity Building for Tourism Practitioners course in September 2015 presented by Continuing Education at University of Pretoria Trust (CE at UP).

Having the opportunity to be on the opposite end of the tourism chain, and experiencing being part of a cultural tour – as tourists themselves – it was an opportune moment to take note of what they could practically do to improve their own work in promoting their respective tourist destinations.

Ms Mavis Chavalala, Tourism Officer at Bela-Bela Local Municipality, reflected on her participation in the opportunity, saying, “Although I did tourism in school, things keep on changing. I have learned things I did not know before and even ways of doing things better.”

She added that the tour helped delegates even more than expected, as they have had to learn how other people work. “The tour is very relevant and it was nice getting to experience what it is like being on the other side.”

Freedom Park is a centre of knowledge that aims to deepen the understanding of South Africa as a diverse, yet unified, nation. It strives to accommodate all of the country’s experiences and symbols to tell one coherent story, while celebrating the ideals of liberty, diversity and human rights. Freedom Park also houses a museum and memorial dedicated to chronicling and honouring those who have contributed to South Africa’s liberation and continual development.

Mfundo Ngcangca, Acting Registrar at the Department of Tourism in the Free State, was also pleased with the experience and knowledge gained on the course. “It’s good to revive what you have done in the past so that you can go back to the community and implement those changes”, he said. Speaking on the tour, he added that he was impressed and challenged to ensure improvement back at his home.

“We need to ensure that the people responsible for the tours are innovative and must provide historic and accurate information to tourists.”

Also commenting on her experience on the course, Nandipha Conjwa, Tourism Officer at Ugu South Coast Tourism, stated, “I really enjoyed the course, especially dealing with legislation. It helped me remember some things I have forgotten.” She recommended the course to everyone working in tourism and said that she will would share what she has learnt with her colleagues back home.

The Capacity Building for Tourism Practitioners course was presented by CE at UP as an in-house training solution from 14–18 September 2015 to the National Department of Tourism that nominated tourism practitioners from local and district municipalities, as well as provincial departments from around the country to brush up on their tourism skills. For more information on courses via CE at UP, visit www.ce.up.ac.za.

Above: Senior tourism officials attending the Capacity Building for Tourism Practitioners course visiting Freedom Park in Pretoria as part of their practical component. Tour leader, Mr Gift Maluleke (front, left), provides delegates with invaluable information on the value and importance of sites such as Freedom Park as a tourist attraction.