Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Happy Holidays from sunny South Africa

It’s been a very long while since I’ve written anything about my continuing adventures, but, as I’ve mentioned before, things don’t seem quite so interesting once you are living a scheduled life again.


Things have been going great for me here in South Africa. I was “promoted” to Projects Assistant at my internship with Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA) and have taken on more responsibility working with several community based tourism projects. It definitely feels more rewarding to actually get to meet the people and see the places that you are working with to help stimulate sustainable development using tourism. It combines elements of all my interests—responsible tourism, responsible development, and responsible engagement with local communities!


I got to go on my first business trip as well! FTTSA Executive Director Jennifer Seif and I took a trip to Mthatha for meetings with two Local Coordinators and government tourism officials for the projects I am assisting on as well as a visit to the community of Qunu to discuss a potential tourism development project.


Qunu is where Nelson Mandela was born and where he now as a vacation home. A museum has been created as well on a hill overlooking the community. The interesting thing is, that the community of Qunu has had lots of folks, especially government, come through to offer them training or empty promises of developing tourism in the region. So far no real delivery, and the Qunu residents haven’t substantially benefitted from any of the tourism development in the area. Most tourists drive through, stop to take a photo in front of Mandela’s house and maybe visit the museum. They don’t even bother to actually stay in the any of the traditional guesthouses, take a tour of the township or meet any locals. Perhaps it’s not everyone’s idea of a holiday—to actually experience the culture of the place they are visiting.


It’s strange to start to learn about and care about politics in a country that I was determined to leave behind me a few months ago. It’s addicting here; the more I get to know this country and the people, the more I am simultaneously frustrated, heart broken, and hopeful. What a strange mix of emotions!


I’m happy to be here now, though, for the holidays. It will be nice to spend it with Aunt Linda, Uncle Allan, Tisha, Tucker.

5 comments:

DEY said...

Hi Jen!

For a year now we have been working on a platform to promote only community and cultural based tourism.

The process of finding the places has been hard, and I was wondering if you have any contacts with local leaders that are fostering Community-based tourism, we will love to get in touch with them to promote them globally, we are planning the launch of the site soon, right now we are in the testing phase, you can check us out at http://weekeego.net

Looking forward to hear from you,

Thanks in advance,

Dey

Masha said...

Well aren't you responsible ;)
Lurv ya,
Masha

Masha said...

I wish I had said this earlier, Jen - I really admire you and all that you've done since we graduated from T-Line and UW. You're amazing and you live life to the fullest. You live life so much that you don't even take time to sleep. :) I hope you're finally at rest.

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Luxury Traveler said...

Luxury holidays in South Africa is amazing! The place is a paradise. Thera re great things to explore and try in there.