Four student guides have qualified as National Guides after joining the Tourvest Destination Management (TDM) Guide Academy last year.

Charity Bila, Philani Sangweni, Senzeni Mtshali and Tsholofelo Sedumedi were given the opportunity to train as guides as part of the TDM learnership programme in February 2019, and Academy Manager Alisha Kirk previously told Tourism Update that a high percentage of the programme graduates went on to full-time employment within the Tourvest Integrated Tourism Services fold.

From this month, the four new graduates have been employed permanently by TDM, where they will assist with tours, meet and greets, transfers and charters. “They will also be spending time in the office helping with research and administrative tasks when they are not on tour,” said Kirk.

Speaking on the experience at the academy, Bila described it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity “because you get taught theory and practical at the same time”. Bila added that there was nothing better than learning from experienced guides and actually shadowing their tours.

Fellow graduate, Sangweni said it brought great pride to be an ambassador for the country. “Taking people to all the corners of our beautiful country and sharing with them our very interesting stories, experiences and cultures,” are some of Sangweni’s highlights of being a tour guide.

Describing the initiative last year, Kirk emphasised the critical role that such empowerment programmes could play in driving transformation of the tourism sector. “Be a part of the philanthropic movement through travel. You cannot make more of a difference than through travelling to South Africa,” was Kirk’s message to international visitors.