Region: Makuleke, South Africa
The overall aim of the project is to increase and diversify the benefit derived from a tourism partnership between a private sector operator and community partners. Pro Poor Tourism has clearly identified that community partnerships need to be structured through economic linkages to the tourism market. If no support structure is developed to assist local people in supplying product and services for the market where these are procured in perpetuity outside of the region, community partners will start to object and this will have a negative impact on the concession partnerships.
In the case of the Makuleke, recent history evidenced their forced removal out of the Kruger Park in the 1960s by the Apartheid administration. With the restoration of their land by a new legitimate government in 1994, the Makuleke elected to retain conservation and tourism as the land-use option for their land and created a Contract Park between the Luvuvhu and Limpopo Rivers. The land is administered as part of the Kruger National Park, although the commercial developments are administered by the Communal Property Association on behalf of the landowners. Besides benefit through rental paid for the concessions and employment on the concessions, there needs to be more economic linkages to the tourism market to validate the decision to use the area for tourism. Continued use of the land for photographic tourism (as opposed to hunting) will protect the contract park and one of the most valuable biodiversity zones in what is managed as part of the Kruger Park for future generations.
In this way, both local economy and ecology will benefit.
The Makuleke Small Business Support Company (SBSC) has been established as a joint venture between the Makuleke Community Property Association (CPA) and Wilderness Safaris to encourage, support and diversify tourism related enterprise. The CPA is the landholder both in and outside of the Kruger, whilst Wilderness Safaris is a concessionaire in the Makuleke Contract Park, which attaches to the Kruger National Park.
From the support of partner agencies such as GTZ, substantial infrastructure, equipment and facilities have been introduced to start tourism-related enterprise at Makuleke Village near the Kruger Park. The Makuleke Small Business Support Company which has been given the responsibility to manage the assets in a productive manner needs to plan, train and support community-based enterprise to develop their product and services for the tourism market in a manner where they become profitable and are diversified and expanded in the best interests of the company and community partners.
The objective of the project is to develop a multi-function community centre in the vicinity of the Makuleke Concession on adjoining communal land where the Makuleke landowners are situated. In this manner, tourism-related products and services can be procured by tourism establishments inside and outside of the Kruger National Park.
Besides the supply of product from SBSC enterprises such as produce for Pafuri Camp, its guests will be able to enjoy heritage excursions and events and participate in community activities, sample local cuisine and culture and the performing arts. The nature of the excursions will be both educational and informative whilst also providing adventure activities not permitted in the protected areas within which the lodges are situated.
Increased benefits through business linkages with Pafuri Camp where various product, services and excursions are provided by community projects will increase the benefit to both the Makuleke community partners and to the company.
The community centre, known as the Community Cultural Centre and Homestay, will provide a range of heritage and cultural activities that allow guests to learn about and participate in traditional practices. Traditional medicine and healing, animal husbandry and farming, ancestral belief systems, art and craft, social and political expression through the performing arts, customary events and historical institutions are all part of what is on offer. More recent cultural and social practices are captured in guest trips to schools, churches, markets and shebeens (taverns) in each area.
In order to improve the operating capacity of the Makuleke-based enterprises and introduce an environmental programme of sustainable resource use, the premises need to be developed into a multifunctional facility that includes a Market Place Operator (MPO) and Information Technology and Communications (ITC) station, as learning and educational facilities.
The concept of Market Place Operators has its origins in the Mekong Delta, a remote region in South East Asia. Since its conception in 2002 to access remote tourism destinations, it has been developed and diversified to include additional functions and will be expanded to various African destinations. MPOs are designed to assist tourism-based small medium and micro enterprises (SMME) to participate in the region’s tourism industry. A destination MPO coordinates and supports a cluster of small, usually under-resourced enterprises through its email link to the Worldhotel-Link.com company (WHL), which provides an online booking service and information service to travellers wanting to travel to frontier destinations in developing countries.
The combination of a business facility to coordinate tourism activities and enterprise coupled to an ITC facility from which research, documentation, education and training could be conducted is considered to be a practical workable option.
Pivotal to the project is the placement of a researcher/trainer attached to a tertiary education institution, who has also had experience in the tourism industry. The researcher will assist in designing training material suitable for each location and help with the training itself. Input and support will be provided and facilitated by the Makuleke Small Business Support Company.
Village tours worked well from July to September 2007 then slacked over the summer, presumably because there were fewer tourists around. Catering services for meetings and events at the MCC&H have also generated substantial income. If ever you need catering at the village, please let us know.
The water situation at the MCC&H has been resolved with the generous help of a group from The Outpost led by Sid Stoltz who came through to the village for a Day Tour. R10 000 was donated towards the drilling of a borehole and the rest of the amount was topped up by the Makuleke CPA.
Through the generous funding of the Wilderness Wildlife Trust, an ITC station (Information Technology and Communications Station) will be set up shortly with PCs connected to the internet for training of community based enterprises in the tourism industry and to support the various environmental resource use programmes and activities over the longer term. The ITC stations would also be used for education and learning and will link to the Makuleke Indigenous Knowledge Centre (IKC) being developed in conjunction with Earthwatch. This would include links to national channel learning, adult basic education and vocational courses such as in conservation and tour guiding.
An assessment of the Makuleke Hydroponics Tunnel Farming Enterprise revealed that the planting schedule was ad hoc and was not structured to supply its markets efficiently. The Small Business Support Company has presented a proposal to the Makuleke CPA to take out a loan in order to continue the farming business. Once the loan comes through, planting will start immediately. A representative of the Department of Agriculture was consulted and the cycle of planting will be changed in accordance with the requests from the camps in the Makuleke Contract Park.