This evening (30 Nov), a cheque for R45000 was handed over to Paul Zille, the recently announced CEO of the Tourism Conservation Fund, by Live the Journey. The money will be used to aid the initiative’s conservation efforts.
The donation was collected as a part of The Great Escape, the first event of its kind, which saw a fleet of vehicles taking to the streets of Cape Town to “kidnap” various executives from the some of the Western Cape tourism industry’s most popular tourism companies.
The “offending” executives were marched out of their offices by the tourism police for crimes committed against tourism. After being escorted to Signal Hill, they were loaded onto a City Sightseeing Red Tour Bus, which took them on a scenic drive down to the Atlantic Ocean where they were auctioned off at Shimmy Beach Club. It was this money that was put together and handed over to the Tourism Conservation Fund as part of the evening’s festivities.
“Through this private sector partnership, we’re hoping to develop creative ideas and strategies to benefit everyone down the conservation value chain,” Zille told Tourism Update at the event. “This fund will act a source of incentivising these ideas. We’ll part fund things, with the private sector also coming to the party. This kind of event is such a good example of the work we’re trying to do.”
He explained that wildlife is the anchor for all tourism in this country and that without by in from everyone – be in business, the tourism industry or the communities surrounding our national parks – we will never be able to preserve this exceptionally valuable resource.
David Frost, CEO of Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA), was also at the event and he shares Zille’s sentiment. “The main reason people come to this part of the world is to see wildlife. If we become a big four, not a big five, we’re going to lose business to our northern neighbours.” While Frost did acknowledge that there is already a lot of work being done within the local conservation space, but he believes that these just aren’t adding up and mean that we need to do something different.
Colin Bell, co-founder of Natural Selection and the person who conceptualised the Tourism Conservation Fund, believes that the tourism industry is responsible for ensuring that conservation policies and initiatives protect the industry today and many years into the future. “If we don’t sort out the tourism industry now and include surrounding communities as part of what we are doing, there isn’t going to be one. We really have to change the dynamics between the industry and our local people. And we have to do it now.”
Speaking about the planning of this Great Escape, Rijaan Visser, Director of Marketing at Live the Journey, said that the idea was to do something fun to get all the tour operators together for a great cause. “This event quickly grew from a nice idea into a massive project. But we want to do it annually and build from what happened today.”
Zille believes his role at CEO is to take the vision of the fund and develop it into a real, actionable plan. “We want to challenge the private sector to diversify their supply chains to include historically excluded farmers and enhance their grassroots training efforts. This means that there will be risk-sharing and cost-sharing between us and them.”
David Ryan, CEO and Founder of Rhino Africa, Jo van den Berg, Branch Manager of Highline Tourist Travel, Michelle Milias, Business Unit Manager for Wilderness Safaris, Charlene Sudlow, Manager for AAA Travel and Juliane Loubser, MD of Fairfield Tours
Abby Saayman, Michelle Alexander and Nureth Jordan, all from Live the Journey
Quinton Stewart, Jaco van der Westhuizen and Shane Turner, from Live the Journey
Three of the Tourism Swat team that kidnapped the tourism company executives
Source : Tourism Update