This week, eighteen individuals, all of them directly or indirectly involved in the tourism industry, were trained to be Oudtshoorn Tourism Ambassadors. They attended the four-day course at the public library, which culminated in a tour on the last day, of some of the amazing attractions that Oudtshoorn has to offer. The course, which was offered free of charge, was sponsored by the AHi through Dr Willie Cilliers, the Chairman of AHi Western Cape.

Due to the great success of this course, the Oudtshoorn Business Chamber, Oudtshoorn Tourism Bureau and Skål Garden Route, made funds available to run another course in Oudtshoorn again in February 2019. It makes perfect sense to promote tourism in the Garden Route, and especially in Oudtshoorn, where tourism represents approximately 26% of GVA.

The two-part course was developed and presented by the Francois Ferreira Academy a cookery school which is based in George. The first part of the course focuses on how to be an ambassador for the town, while the second part focuses on the attractions, restaurants, places to stay, that Oudtshoorn has to offer.

The course was facilitated and assessed by Susan Eybers, a lecturer at the FFA , and Thandeka Diamond, a project administrator of Francois Ferreira Academy, who took care of the administration.

At the end of the course, the students who have successfully passed a written test, will receive a certificate from Services Seta and a certificate from the FFA.  They will also receive a badge announcing to tourists that they are an Oudtshoorn Tourism Ambassador. Their employers will get a sticker to inform tourists that they employ a Tourism Ambassador.

“I am learning to handle tourists who visit my restaurant, Simzee House in Voortrekker Road,” said Jakob Masiba, whose restaurant serves traditional African food.  Hendrik Tiemie, of Hendrik’s Wire Art, often receives tourists at his studion in Bergsig, Calitzdorp.

The first course of this kind has already been presented twice in Knysna earlier this year to great success, followed by the same course being presented in Plettenberg Bay.  The first courses were initially funded by Skal International after the fires caused such devastation in the area last year.

“This fire was the biggest natural disaster ever experienced in Africa, and Skål International provided funding with the aim of making a difference in the lives of the people of Knysna who had lost not only homes and possessions, but also jobs, as a result of the fire,” said Niel Els, member of the council of Skål International.

The aim of the course is to equip these potential “ambassadors” with information which can be relayed to tourists to these towns. “These ambassadors include people working in tourism offices, restaurants, guest houses and hotels. In Knysna a car guard and petrol station staff also attended the course. These people come into contact with tourists in an informal way and are perfectly placed to provide crucial information about their towns.”

Strict criteria exist for participation in the course. “A person must speak English, must be of sober habits and must be employed. The employer must allow their employee to attend the course without loss of income from their regular job.” There is no cost to the employer, as the course is sponsored by AHi and attendees will not receive a stipend.

For more information on the course, contact Thandeka Diamond at 044 884 0765 or thandeka@francoisferreira.com