The recently released Rural Tourism Strategy document issued by the South African National Department of Tourism in April 2012 contains reference to an academic thesis which used the !Xaus Lodge case study as a significant portion of the work.

We are pleased to note that the document contains reference in paragraph 2.8.1 (pages 50 – 53) to Lauren and Kate’s work on !Xaus Lodge: “Finlay K & Dyll – Myklebust L, Action (Marketing) Research and Paradigms in Partnership: A critical analysis of !Xaus Lodge, Chpt 10, Dec 2010.”

“For us at TFPD it is significant that the National Department of Tourism has elected to highlight the role that !Xaus Lodge has played in rural tourism development and the lessons that can be learnt” says Glynn O’leary, CEO of Transfrontier Parks Destinations.

Furthermore if is interesting for us to note from paragraph 4.4 “Recommendations and Way Forward” that the strategy has elevated nodal development aligned to the principles of sustainability and responsible tourism and that TFPD manages community-owned tourism operations in three of the areas recommended for further development viz. Thabo Mofutsunyana District (Maluti-a-Phofung node), Eastern Free State, Siyanda Region including Riemvasmaak and Mier Kahalahari Farms, Siyanda/Namakwa including the Kgalagadi, Northern Cape and Ehlanzeni District (Bushbuckridge node) (Manyeleti area), Mpumalanga.

It is also significant that the Department has chosen to reference a research article written by UKZN students. It certainly is a tribute to the quality of academic research being undertaken.

I am particularly pleased that the collaboration between TFPD and the Culture, Communication and Media Studies unit at the University of KwaZulu-Natal is, in some small way, contributing to identifying and resolving the challenges faced in the field of Rural Tourism Development in South Africa and highlighting the role played by a Social Enterprise.

The research being undertaken by this unit at Witsieshoek and soon on the African Ivory Route will hopefully make a similar contribution.