By Nonceba Soul –
The Free State Department of Economic, Small business development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Destea) has launched a program aimed at creating a platform to promote tourism for emerging operators and tour guides in the province.
The first of a series of such events was held at Bright Way Car Wash in Zastron in the Gariep district last Saturday (18 Aug).
Small tourism operators from the townships in such areas as Zastron, Rouxville, Smithfield, Reddersburg and other surrounding towns came together to exhibit their products at the day-long event where the media and tour operators were also in attendance.
Speaking at the opening of the event in Zastron, the acting Director of Tourism and Development at Destea, Kekeletso Ntsala, said her department will be taking the drive to promote emerging tourism operators in all the five districts of the province with a view to assist them properly register and accredit their businesses.
“We are here to promote the idea of Kasi Tourism because most of the time when we talk about tourism, most people think that it’s something only done by those from the upper classes of society. When you look at this place where we are today, it’s what they call a ‘chill’ place where people can have their cars washed while enjoying a relaxing environment. These are the kind of places and businesses that we hope to promote through this Kasi Tourism drive,” said Ntsala.
According to Ntsala, the only way small tourism operators and tour guides will be able to attain the same status as their more established counterparts is through exposure to the different markets available. The Kasi Tourism drive also aims to encourage tour guides to design attractive and comprehensive packages.
“The reason we have brought tour guides is so that they will be able to see some of the tourist attractions that are available in different places so that when they compile their packages, they will be able to include them and market these places. We also want to highlight the fact that Destea has different intervention measures in place to assist in boosting up and coming tour businesses,” Ntsala explained.
Noluthando Faku of Bhokwe Creations, is one of the small business operators who exhibited their wares at the event. Having worked as a security officer for six years, Faku is into sewing of traditional attires that are popular with tourists especially from outside South Africa.
“I started sewing at a young age, then because of finance I had to stop and become a security officer as I had kids who needed to be supported. I then had to quit my job and decided to take up sewing full time,” she explained.
Later that day, the Kasi Tourism drive took the form of a tour of Motlakeng township in Zastron which was established in 1876. Some of the prominent features of the township include a double-storey shack as well as the first hospital which has since been converted into a house where the pioneer nurse, 100-year old Mayeza Moletsane is now staying.