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November 13, 2009

Networking at Rondevlei Nature Reserve

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Rondvlei Nature Reserve, photo courtesy Ian Junor

Cape Town Tourism Team South, together with a number of Cape Town Tourism members, had a fun-filled, jam-packed networking function on Wednesday, November 11 at Rondevlei Nature Reserve, just 15 minutes’ drive from the city centre.

The setting was ideal and although the weather threatened to derail our plans, we were able to go ahead with our activities.

Joy Bennett of Imvubu Nature Tours was a gracious host and she, together with the Cape Town Tourism staff, had put together an informative, interactive self-guided 45-minute walk.

Most of the function’s attendees had never been to Rondevlei before and were delighted by what they found.

Rondevlei is managed by the City of Cape Town and has a dedicated team of staff and interns who manage the area sensitively and responsibly. The area is home to eight hippos, some unique vegetation and roughly 230 bird species.

Our intrepid walkers were encouraged to look, listen, smell and touch – all under the watchful eye of Joy. We challenged the members to return with some hippo dung, which we got in abundance – with some droppings of the Cape clawless otter sneaked in among the lot! It made for a most fascinating dung lecture.

Then it was on to more serious stuff: we looked at a case study of a local fishing community in India that showed just how damaging irresponsible tourism development can be. This particular community, once a happy, self- sustainable community, where rice and fishing were the main industries, ended up a sex tourism destination in a relatively short time.

Because the initial development lacked vision, was not subjected to environmental impact assessments and was bogged down in corruption and greed, the community did not benefit at all from tourism but was instead plunged into abject poverty, with mothers and daughters eventually resorting to prostitution to sustain their families.

We also looked at sex tourism and child prostitution in South Africa and Cape Town, and examined how the tourism industry could be involved in various ways to assist and support lobby groups, and international and local organisations.

Blog Featured Image

A hide at Rondvlei Nature Reserve, photo courtesy Danie van der Merwe

TheCode.org is an international code for the global tourism industry that encourages tourism businesses, organisations and governments to inform and educate residents and visitors. Molo Songololo is a Cape Town-based non-governmental organisation that works in the field of protection of children’s rights and the Tourism Community Development Trust (TCD Trust) is supported solely by our local tourism industry through the friends of the TCD Trust programme. The Trust has done some amazing projects in various communities around Cape Town.

We were privileged to have the Trust’s Bronwen Wetton talk about its latest project in Hanover Park, where a local school has been earmarked for the development of a multi-purpose educational and recreational centre – keeping children off the streets after school and thus reducing the lure of gangsterism and drugs. The project is huge and members were encouraged to support it, either through donations or in kind.

One of our tour operator members, Arlene Hermanus of Shiya Afrika Tours, sprang into action immediately and is offering her services as a storyteller for the soon-to-be built library!

Finally, furthering the theme of safety and security, new Cape Town Tourism member Guest Alert presented its product to us. The product aims to protect the industry against unscrupulous visitors by creating a database of reported bilkers, thieves, scam artists etc. This will be a very useful tool, with real-time reports available to subscribers to the service.

We then got down to some serious eats and drinks, and some productive networking – in true Cape Town fashion!

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