Knysna Tourism collaborates with International Institute for Peace through Tourism
Knysna Tourism CEO Shaun van Eck said that his organisation and the IIPT enjoy a working relationship that is set to benefit not only both organisations, but tourism development throughout Africa and the world.
“The president of the IIPT Mr Louis D’Amore recently visited Knysna,” said van Eck. “He presented an information session to our members and our Development Manager Glendyrr Fick took this opportunity to discuss a number of projects with him, including the Green Chefs initiative, a conflict resolution in indigenous communities research project, the possibility of establishing an international slave heritage trail and the possibility of establishing Pledge Nature Reserve as an IIPT Peace Park. I also discussed the possibility of Knysna becoming Africa’s first IIPT Peace Town with Mr D’Amore.”
Fick has identified and developed a number of projects in Knysna which, by working with the IIPT, have the potential to be implemented throughout the mother continent, as well as across the globe.
“One of the projects that I am most excited about is the Green Chefs initiative,” said Fick. “This community tourism chef’s training program is designed to add value to nature-based experiences presented at all nature reserves and national parks in Africa and, eventually, across the globe.”
“Members from the community are trained as chefs and given the knowledge, skills and tools to not only cook delicious and nutritious meals according to traditional recipes, but to grow and cultivate their own ingredients. This empowerment program will enhance nature-based experiences by including a traditional meal, storytelling and interaction with locals, thereby creating a holistic offering for travellers.”
“This creates a sense of pride in the Green Chef about his/her heritage and culture,” Fick explained. “And this is very important in today’s homogenous global culture.”
“We envision an international Green Chefs’ network of empowered individuals and by investing in a project of this nature, we improve these skills and encourage entrepreneurship. This project may also foster stronger relationships between local communities, their environment, nature reserves, national parks and destination marketing organisations.”
“The proposed conflict resolution in indigenous communities research project will involve several African universities in identifying methods of conflict resolution throughout the continent,” Fick explained. “This project will take place under the auspices of the IIPT.”
“Along with the IIPT we will investigate the possibility of establishing an international slave heritage trail to connect Africa with North America, the Caribbean Diaspora and other countries with a history connected with slavery,” she continued. “This will be a fantastic opportunity to involve local and international tour operators and will connect travellers and locals who share a common heritage.”
“Having been transformed from a waste dumping site into a beautiful park filled with indigenous plants, the urban forest of Pledge Nature Reserve offers amazing views of the famous Knysna estuary, Knysna town and even the Knysna Heads, and is a haven for birdwatchers as the indigenous trees attract a variety of birds – including the elusive Knysna Loerie,” said Fick. “The IIPT has indicated that it would like to establish Pledge Nature Reserve as a Peace Park, thereby elevating the reserve’s status on a national level, creating various entrepreneurial opportunities for local residents and providing our beautiful town with another tourism attraction. We are currently discussing these possibilities with the park’s managing committee.”
Van Eck said his suggestion that Knysna becomes Africa’s first IIPT Peace Town was met with applause at the end of Mr D’Amore’s information session presented to Knysna Tourism members. “Knysna is home to the world famous Judah Square Rastafarian community, owns the Knysna Tourism Living Local brand and has embraced the philosophy of Naturally Knysna – an initiative that asks us to exist as a natural system. Becoming the first Peace Town in Africa is simply the next step on the ladder of evolution.”
Fick concluded by saying how honoured she was to collaborate with the IIPT on these amazing projects. “It is great to rub shoulders with individuals like Louis D’Amore, but even better to look forward to a working relationship between Knysna Tourism and the IIPT. I believe that together we can accomplish great things and promote peace through tourism.”
Van Eck seconded her sentiment. “The whole team at Knysna Tourism is committed to not only provide the best possible service to our members and Knysna as a destination, but to the development- and upliftment opportunities that tourism related projects such as these may hold.”
“Our continued and active association with international organisations such as the International Institute for Peace through Tourism is proof of Team Knysna Tourism’s commitment to initiating innovative projects with relevance on an international level, while continuously ensuring that our beautiful town remains the destination of choice for travellers from all walks of life,” van Eck concluded.
- photograph credit – Mark & Gideon