An exciting new Youth Development Program within the tourism sector has been launched by the Bergrivier Tourism Organisation (BTO) in a bid to empower and support young people from the local Bergrivier communities.
Picture: Suppliedto equip them with the skills and knowledge that will enhance their employability within the tourism sector. It will also be working with them to help with personal growth and development, and to nurture their aspirations. The program, which kicks off in January 2024, will be working with marginalised local youths ‘We decided to launch this initiative because tourism is at the forefront of our area’s economic growth, however, presently, a significant portion of the rural population in the Bergrivier grapples with poverty, limited skills, and a perception that tourism primarily benefits the affluent,’ explains Nomonde Ndlangisa, CEO of Bergrivier Tourism. ‘This situation particularly affects the youth in our community, placing them at a significant disadvantage as they lack the necessary skills to participate in the tourism industry. Consequently, this predicament results in alarmingly high unemployment rates amongst this age group and, regrettably, school dropout rates are also on the rise. Furthermore, the absence of local higher education institutions providing post-matric tourism training compounds these challenges.’
Notably, tourism stands as the largest employer in our region, second only to agriculture, and we are on a mission to foster the growth of the tourism sector by fostering our youth,” says Ndlangisa. ‘To ensure the sustained success of tourism in our area, our focus lies on responsible destination marketing, a strategy that not only showcases the region’s attractions but also prioritises the protection of the environment and the well-being of our local communities. For responsible tourism to achieve genuine success, it must directly benefit local communities.’
The youth development program will target 20 unemployed youth in its first year, and will focus on several key areas of education and development for the participants. These are:
- Life Skills and Personal Development
- Skills Development
- Entrepreneurship Training
- Mentorship and Coaching
- Community Involvement
- Career Counselling and Job Placement
- Networking and Exposure
Each participant will undergo a needs analysis to ascertain which areas need the most attention and then targeted, customised interventions will be made available to all individuals.
‘We are excited and pleased to be launching this initiative in our area – the future for tourism is bright and will be brighter still if we increasingly involve and empower our disenfranchised youth so that they too benefit from the sector. Our first year will have a limited intake of 20 young people due to budgets, but we hope to see this grow exponentially as the programme goes forward,’ concludes Ndlangisa.