Robben Island Museum, in partnership with the Department of Tourism, will host a two-day celebration from Thursday, 2 March 2017 to Friday, 3 March 2017, in honour of International Tourist Guide Day.
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- Robben Island Museum

The purpose of the event is to celebrate and discuss the role tourist guides play in promoting peace, security and mutual understanding in relation to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This initiative is coordinated by the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations under the leadership of the newly elected President, South African wine specialist, Alushca Ritchie.

According to Statistics South Africa’s December 2016 report on the tourism sector, the industry created 32,186 new jobs in 2015, raising the tourism workforce from 679,560 individuals in 2014 to a total of 711,746 individuals. This is despite a decline in international tourists visiting our shores in 2015. Currently, one in 22 employed people in South Africa works in the tourism industry, representing 45% of the total workforce. In fact, tourism surpasses mining as an employer.

“A tour guide can either make or break your tour experience. Tour guides have the ability to share knowledge, history and humour tourists while guiding them through their escapades. It’s more than just storytelling; they essentially play a significant role as ambassadors of the organisation,” shares infrastructure and facilities executive manager of Robben Island Museum, Gershon Manana.

Under this year’s theme by the Department of Tourism - Peace and Development through Guiding - peace, sustainability, and security will form part of the robust discussions. Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom and Deputy Minister of Tourism, Tokozile Xasa will deliver keynote addresses emphasising the valuable contribution of tour guides to the tourism sector.

“Hosting the 27th year of International Tourist Guide Day is significant for us because we’re celebrating 20 years as a museum this year. We are excited to be paying homage to these dedicated men and women who are true ambassadors of world heritage sites,” concludes Manana.

Robben Island Museum offers educational and specialised tours. The guides include former political prisoners who are fully conversant and knowledgeable about the Island’s multi-layered 500-year-old history. To find out more about the tours and the guides, visit for details

As we have now come to understand, medical tourism is about health-related services provided by a medical doctor, or under the supervision of a medical doctor (also known as a physician in the United States) and involves some travel. Medical tourism can involve going abroad for treatment or travelling within your own country (domestic medical tourism).

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Medical tourism is also about destinations. Are destinations that focus exclusively on medical tourism, sustainable? For me, the clear and simple answer is “No, they are not sustainable.” If destinations wish to develop a sustainable model, they need to consider the development of services within all of the health tourism segments.

The message seems to have even reached the medical tourism “purists”, who are now encroaching on the other health tourism segments (in their speaking and writing). Even publications embracing “medical travel” or “medical tourism” are now, more and more, including articles on the other health tourism segments such as spa, wellness, and dental tourism. Likewise, associations and councils, claiming to steadfastly represent the interests of the medical tourism industry, are showing a creeping – but distinct – interest in addressing the other health tourism segments, as well.

Those responsible for publications and industry representative bodies are seeing the writing on the wall, and are hastening to broaden their appeal and maintain their relevance.

Responding to the 2017 Budget Speech by Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, the CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), Mmatšatši Ramawela said that the message of travel and tourism as a key economic driver is finally filtering through government speeches and plans.

Although not yet regarded as an economic sector by the Department of Trade and Industry which is something we hope will change, the Budget Speech’s strong mention of travel and tourism is a major vote of confidence for the sector,” Ramawela said.

In his Speech, delivered on Wednesday, 22 February 2017, Minister Gordhan made mention of the government’s plans to provide focused support on labour-intensive sectors including tourism-related services. He announced the allocation of an additional R494 million for tourism promotion as one of the short-term measures to boost investment. This is in addition to the 2016/17 budget allocation to the National Tourism Department of just over R2 billion. He further referred to local initiatives in the tourism and hospitality industry being key to economic progress, quoting a budget tip from Lisa Sheard of the Kruger Lowveld Tourism Association.

Within the constraints of the local and broader global economy, TBCSA agrees with the broad view of the business community that the Finance Minister did not have much room to maneuver but nonetheless delivered an overall balanced budget.