Typically in urban and rural settings within Southern Africa, the youth form the highest segment amongst unemployed and rural unemployment among youth is estimated to be as high as 48%. Our youth have the most to benefit from skills development and capacity building programmes and recognising the need, Open Africa developed an internship program to help rural youth to increase their employability in the tourism sector.
The project is implemented in poverty nodes in the Northern Cape, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal provinces and uses rural tourism routes as platforms for youth to gain a broad understanding of the tourism industry while giving them hands-on business experience.
Each route employs up to five interns between the ages of 18 and 35 and route members offer them a variety of opportunities to gain experience ranging from office administration, to guiding and guest relations while the route association involves them in route management and product development.
Interns on the Drakensberg Experience route are busy developing a community-based hiking trail that will give visitors an opportunity to stay with rural families while hiking in the spectacular Drakensberg Mountains. The group has already received their first group of foreign visitors and will use this experience to refine their product.
Barbara Raats, an intern in the Northern Cape learnt how to start up a business and saw how community projects could enhance the overall tourism experience while simultaneously providing a quality service. She is currently developing products within her community and hopes that the products can be sold through the route network.