In a boost for the tourism industry and job creation, Deputy Tourism Minister Fish Mahlalela on Saturday presided over the graduation of 210 young people who will join the industry as tourism monitors.
The ceremony was held in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, and was hosted by the Department of Tourism in collaboration with the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA).
The monitors will ensure visitor safety and service excellence at various tourist attractions in the province.
“Skills development is an essential instrument to address poverty alleviation and job creation. The Tourism Monitors Programme is part of the broader government intervention that involves training, mentorship and deployment of unemployed youth in identified tourism attractions and sites,” Mahlalela said.
MTPA CEO Johannes Nobunga noted that the programme would enhance safety awareness at key tourism attractions.
"Our aim is to reduce the number of criminal incidents that are directed against tourists, to eliminate opportunities for such crime and to integrate current tourism safety and awareness initiatives into sustainable programmes.
“As Mpumalanga, we are excited to be part of this initiative that offers young people an opportunity to participate and benefit from the development opportunities in the tourism sector. The exposure of these young people through this programme has empowered them with work experience through placement at various tourist attractions within the province. They have played a critical role in providing support and visitor services, especially in relation to tourism safety awareness, early warning and rapid response to incidents of crime and distress among those visiting our province,” Nobunga added.
The Tourism Monitors Programme was launched as a pilot with the Gauteng Tourism Authority in the 2017/18 financial year.
"The programme is now being implemented in all nine provinces, including identified protected areas through partnerships with organisations such as South African National Parks and the South African National Biodiversity Institute," the Deputy Minister noted.
He thanked the programme partners and the host employers for absorbing the graduates into their businesses.
“The monitors are graduating at a time when we ready ourselves for the festive season in December, and we believe that, through their deployment, the multitudes of tourists from within our country and abroad will have a memorable and safe visitor experience over the festive season," he commented.