The Department of Tourism, OR Tambo District Municipality and Ekurhuleni Metro have launched a youth exchange programme named after the struggle liberation stalwart.
Under the inaugural OR Tambo Youth Exchange Programme a group of 200 learners from OR Tambo District Municipality in the Eastern Cape has visited Gauteng attractions, including the OR Tambo Cultural Precinct. An equal number of learners from Ekurhuleni in Gauteng has visited the birthplace of OR Tambo in Mbizana Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape.
Government has declared 2017 the Year of OR Tambo. He would have turned 100 this year.
Tourism Deputy Minister Elizabeth Thabethe said they named the exchange programme after the ANC’s longest serving president because he was a renowned leader, who travelled around many parts of the world mobilising societies to fight the injustices of the apartheid government.
“This programme allows school children to explore and learn more about Oliver Tambo, with the aim of fostering future tourism ambassadors and travellers, who can sustain our history, heritage and legacy of OR Tambo as well as South Africa,” said Deputy Minister Thabethe.
The Deputy Minister said there must be greater inclusivity and transformation through practical programmes like the OR Tambo Youth Exchange Programme.
“The majority of previously disadvantaged communities cannot afford to travel due to financial constraints and unavailability of packages for social tourism.
“It is on this background that there is a need to promote social tourism objectives through awareness and educational trips for schools to promote the benefits of social tourism products and social cohesion,” she said.
The learners were delighted to be part of the programme, as many of them have never travelled as tourists before. They explored and learned about the history of Oliver Tambo, shared their experiences and committed to do more social tourism.
Social tourism allows all population groups, particularly youth, families, retirees, individuals with modest incomes and individuals with restricted physical capacity, to enjoy tourism, while also building relations between visitors and host.
This Department of Tourism initiative seeks to address the gaps identified in the Domestic Tourism Growth Strategy, which are, among others, seasonality and uneven geographic spread.