Impoverished, unskilled young people in southern Africa have the opportunity to change their lives. The SA College for Tourism specifically recruits this target group, providing year-long courses to teach students highly sought-after skills vital to the tourism industry. After a year, graduates are able to return to their communities as entrepreneurs with small tourism businesses, or to work as part of the local eco-tourism industry within or around conservation areas.

The SA College for Tourism is a non-profit organisation that operates under the auspices of the Peace Parks Foundation, with Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation, on the board. Established in 2001 by Dr Anton Rupert, renowned financier and philanthropist and then chairman of Peace Parks Foundation, its main campus is situated in Graaff-Reinet. The first hospitality students graduated a year later. Now, the Tracker Academy and the Herding Academy are also part of the portfolio, training people in skills essential to the future of a sustainable approach to tourism as well as the landscape.

With around 1 in 20 people directly relying on the tourism industry for employment in South Africa, the tourism sector is vital to southern Africa’s future and the Peace Parks Foundation’s mission. One of the keystones for establishing transfrontier conservation areas in southern Africa is to create economically sustainable livelihoods for people living in or adjacent to these parks. So, for transfrontier conservation areas across southern Africa to become self-sustainable over the long-term, it is important to develop high-standard tourism offerings with sufficient experiential value to keep tourists coming back.

The hospitality course at the SA College for Tourism is invaluable in teaching operational and management skills for the lodge and guest house industry. The Tracker Academy training invests in the age-old skill of wildlife tracking, which can bring tourists into closer contact with the incredible wildlife southern Africa has to offer. The Herding Academy provides holistic learning relevant to the sustainable management of the land and nature, using the ancient skill of herding livestock.

Since its inception, the SA College for Tourism has trained well over a thousand students in hospitality services while 74 young tracker trainees have graduated from the Tracker Academy. With a remarkable track record of over 90% of students from the hospitality course and Tracker Academy going on to find permanent employment, the SA College for Tourism has certainly earnt its place in the future of sustainable tourism in southern Africa.

The SA College For Tourism Campus is located in Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, with other training sites including the Drostdy Hotel, Samara Private Game Reserve, Londolozi Private Game Reserve, Singita Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, and Bergplaas Private Nature Reserve.