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March 2021 1st edition

Empowering tourism graduates

Written by Dale Hes

Tourism Green Coast (TGC), an award-winning government youth tourism programme, has helped youth from the Wild Coast find employment or start their own business in the tourism industry. TGC participants at their graduation ceremony in the Eastern Cape. Photo: WESSA.

TGC is part of the Department of Tourism’s Expanded Public Works Programme and is being implemented by the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA).

In July, 119 youth from the Eastern Cape obtained a National Certificate in Tourism Guiding as a result of the two-year programme, which helped them to develop skills and gain work experience at various tourism establishments along the Wild Coast.

“The Green Coast Stewards participated in a comprehensive training programme, with accredited and non-accredited courses. They attended contact sessions and applied new knowledge and skills through workplace assignments and practical activities, such as Green Coast monitoring, coastal clean-ups and environmental education targeting communities and local schools,” says Kerry Mclean, WESSA project manager.

Thirty-two of the youth have found permanent employment and seven have registered their own businesses, while the rest want to start their own business or further their studies in 2021.

“We were inspired by the number of participants who have or are attempting to start their own business. It is our hope that as tourism resumes, these budding entrepreneurs are supported sufficiently to make a success of their enterprises. We also hope more jobs will become available and that our graduates will gain full-time employment,” says Mclean.

As it has made such a positive impact, the TGC project was a Gold Winner in the biodiversity category of the 2020 Eco-Logic Awards.

One of the graduates, 28-year-old Sanelise Dasoyi from Coffee Bay, says the TGC programme helped her on many levels.

“I was able to pay my UNISA fees for nature conservation studies and secured permanent employment as a project manager at the Sustainable Coffee Bay non-profit organisation,” says Dasoyi, who plans to start a small business offering unique tourism experiences for visitors to Coffee Bay.

Visit WESSA’s website www.wessa.org.za or Facebook page for information about upcoming programmes.