Attracting tourists to rural and township communities
Attitudes of pessimism towards rural and township tourism communities is nothing new in the tourism industry. Many people do not believe rural and township communities have unique and authentic experiences to offer tourists. But nothing could be further from the truth.
That is why changing perceptions about rural and township tourism is becoming increasingly important. The key to achieving this lies in establishing tourism routes, so that sceptical visitors are introduced to the fascinating mixture of cultures, traditions, activities, and food, rural and township communities have to offer
Wait, what’s a tourism route?
Well, tourism routes are combining a variety of tourist activities and attractions under a unified theme to stimulate entrepreneurial opportunities.
It’s a great way of enhancing visitor experiences and highlight tourism experiences across a specific area or region. However, a successful route is not built on sand and emerging tourist destinations often have many hurdles to overcome.
To help you navigate the complexities, we spoke to Thabang Rabotho, seasoned tour guide and brains behind the newly launched Tshwane Green Heritage Route.
The route, which is the newest addition to the Tshwane metropolitan’s tourism treasure trove, celebrates the heritage of its people and breath-taking landscapes on offer. Its main themes are eco-tourism, health and wellness, heritage and culture, geo-tourism and adventure tourism.
Rabotho explains what went into establishing this route and many lessons learned along the way.
Duncan Masiwa: Getting a tourism route off the ground, sounds like a lot of work. How would you describe the process?
A lot of rigorous planning and collaborative efforts went into making the route launch a success. We had to earn the trust and inspire belief from product owners that route will benefit their products.
The City of Tshwane assisted us a great deal and their presence gave hope to the tourism product owners.
Any challenges experienced at the very beginning of launching the route?
The main challenge was conducting site visits and convincing the community and product owners to work together in achieving a common goal, which is economic development in our region.
Many farmers were sceptical at first. However, after showing them the advantages of agri-tourism, they softened up and became collaborators.
Any highlights from the launch weekend?
We were overwhelmed with emotions to finally see our vision come true.
The route came alive for the first time. Visitors on the tour were amazed by hidden gems and the authenticity of the experience.
What advice do you have for others looking to launch a tourism route?
The key to making any route a success is knowing how to bring products and people together in order to achieve a similar goal. Working with your local municipality is imperative and also gives credibility to the project.