The TUI Care Foundation is linking up with South African non-profit organization Africa!gnite for a three year partnership. From today, both organizations will support young entrepreneurs to run marketplaces as sustainable businesses, developing inclusive tourism destinations on South Africa’s Eastern Cape. In teams of two, young entrepreneurs will also be able to acquire up to 75% shares in each business.
Over the next two years, eight marketplaces will be established in tourist locations, helping around 240 people to offer their handcrafted souvenirs and products to tourists. Local women who traditionally specialise in these handicrafts will especially benefit and their extensive local knowledge also provides the perfect opportunity to offer excursions to surrounding communities. The marketplaces, their products and the excursions are all part of the WOWZULU programme. Located at the entrance of community areas near tourist sights, they welcome visitors and promote community-based, authentic experiences.
One of the WOWZULU locations is at the bottom of the Drakensberg Amphitheatre, part of the spectacular Drakensberg mountain range in South Africa. With stalls selling a variety of regional food products as well as locally made handicrafts, the marketplace brings together ancient traditional techniques with contemporary design. Africa!gnite’s expertise lies in how to develop tourism destinations like this inclusively, resulting in the WOWZULU programme and economic benefits for the whole community.
The teams managing the marketplaces receive regular training and financial support to innovate and improve the customer experience and overall quality of the products. Training covers topics such as marketing and sales, financial and administrative management, customer care and effective management of stakeholders. The products and excursions benefit the regional and local communities and also help to leave a light ecological footprint. Improved recycling, waste management, water consumption and sourcing of organic food products also contribute to sustainable experiences for visitors.
With WOWZULU’s activities acting as a starting point to delve into the local culture, guides from the communities are based at the marketplaces and offer cultural excursions. From cycling through a village to hiking, canoe trips, cooking local cuisine or learning a new skill such as basket weaving, these experiences are locally owned and offer an ideal opportunity to holidaymakers who want to experience the authenticity of the country and help local communities benefit directly from tourism. Africa!gnite has already developed WOWZULU offers in some of KwaZulu-Natal’s most popular travel destinations, offering memorable off-the-beaten-track tourist experiences to tourists.
The TUI Care Foundation joins Africa!gnite’s support for inclusive development of tourism destinations in South Africa. By 2020, the partnership will add another marketplace location, bringing the total to eight marketplaces across KwaZulu-Natal. As support for WOWZULU grows, recognition is increasing too. Isandlwana, a WOWZULU marketplace, is in this year's final of the African Responsible Tourism Awards.
Thomas Ellerbeck, Chairman of the TUI Care Foundation, says: “Community-based tourism in South Africa is both an authentic experience for holidaymakers and an important economic driver for communities. Together with Africa!gnite, we want to support KwaZulu-Natal’s social entrepreneurs on their way to sustainability and profitability.”
Wilna Botha, Africa!gnite’s CEO, says: “Together with TUI Care Foundation, Africa!gnite strives to create viable job opportunities for youths whose job prospects are poor due to limited education or career training, a lack of workplace experience or reduced job opportunities in rural areas. Tourism is the catalyst that ignites their potential”.
The project is part of the TUI CARES programme, which works towards inclusive tourism development, economic empowerment of destinations and the protection of a destination’s cultural and gastronomic heritage. Through the programme, TUI Care Foundation’s aims to support 10,000 livelihoods by 2020 as part of its economic empowerment strategy.