Some years ago I ran a township tour for half a dozen Sudanese journalists visiting Parys. We went to Tumahole and the visitors had their fortunes told by Sangomas throwing the bones and going into trances. After the throwing of the bones there was a throwing of dollars into the same pile.
That was a once-off tour. It’s only when you set out to start a new township tourism business that you realise how much needs to be done – and how many skills, and connections, are involved.
I’m currently helping a guide, Shadrach Qwele, to get his accreditation as an NQF-qualifed tour guide for Tumahole. He has years of experience guiding with me in the Vredefort Dome and on the Vaal & Orange rivers. He has already developed the township tour and proved that he has all the people skills, the business sense and the enthusiasm needed to make a lasting success of things.
Things are happening on the local scene with the founding of a new tourism association and promotions planned for Heritage Day in September. So it’s a good time to get going. Continue reading Setting up township tours→
It’s surprising, to say the least, that in South Africa – a country with a huge and fanatical following of mountain bikers – we don’t have an MTB Tourist Guide certificate. Well, time to change that. With thousands of tourists pouring in from abroad and many more locals wanting to be led on our wonderful single-track trails, the need for qualified professionals is increasing every year.
There are many actually working as MTB guides, illegally. Quite a few companies exist from the Cape to Cairo. In SA, the Tourism Act makes it clear that to be a guide of any kind, conducting tours for gain, you must be qualfied and officially registered. But here’s the catch: there’s no formal qualification for mountain biking (as well as numerous other adventure activities where people are being guided, such as river tubing). There are no specific MTB Unit Standards (US) under the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).
So guides are in double jeopardy: on the one hand you can be arrested, fined and even jailed for working illegally. On the other hand if you did have an accident of some kind the fact that you were not an officially registered guide could lead to punitive damages claimed by the offended party. They would win hands-down, especially if there was already a criminal judgement against the illegal guide.
I’m determined to pursue the issue and get our MTB fraternity onboard with tourist guiding. As I run trails myself, everything I’ve said applies to me too.