The recently held HOTAS Official Tour Guide Course saw 50 candidates trained and certified as accredited tour guides of Eswatini (Swaziland). With the hugely popular course now completed for another year, the number of HOTAS-trained tour guides is on course to hit 1000 in the next few years.
The new guides got their prestigious certificates and badges following a three day practical course, which saw the guides visiting various attractions and accommodation establishments in the country.
“The certification means the guides are now knowledgeable about Eswatini’s diverse heritage, culture, and tourism offering, and can guide tours within Eswatini confidently,” revealed course coordinator, Ruth Buck, a director at Foresters Arms Hotel and a member of the HOTAS executive.
Buck revealed that the course was mainly attended by guides from South Africa and Eswatini, some of whom were already sending tours to the country.
“Most of them actually discovered how rich our hospitality and tourism bouquet is, and regretted how their tours spent little time in the country while in transit to Mozambique or to South Africa. However, following their first-hand experience during the course last week, they proclaimed that they would lobby their respective employers (tour operators) to increase the number of days and nights spent in Eswatini in their tour packages,” said Buck.
Buck appreciated all the sponsors who made the course possible, as well as the guest lecturers and speakers. She said the course was very important in spreading the word about the country, and its wide range of tourism products. She said Swazi people were known for their friendliness, which often overwhelmed visitors. She said visitors tended to ask all sorts of questions; hence the course was intended to equip the guides with the right knowledge. Through a deeper knowledge of Eswatini, she said, the guides’ visitors would enjoy their stay in the country all the more.
Sponsors for this year’s tour guiding course included the STA, HOTAS, Swaziland National Trust Commission (SNTC), Sun International who assisted with accommodation and the venue for the cocktail party; Mountain Inn, Malandela’s, Ngwenya Glass, Foresters Arms, Happy Valley Hotel, and Mantenga Craft Centre for complimentary refreshments, lunches, and dinners; Swaziland Beverages; AD Enterprises; and Elite Coffee, among others.
Meanwhile, STA Marketing Manager Bongani Dlamini, has congratulated the newly trained tour guides.
“We have a diverse and rich mix of tourism and hospitality products perched on culture, adventure, luxury, wildlife, nature, cuisine, leisure, sport, and entertainment; hence a holistic understanding of these by tour guides ensures that our visitors get properly educated or informed so that they also become ‘ambassadors’ of our tourism offering by extension,” said Dlamini.
Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs Christopher Gamedze said that given their extensive and informed knowledge on the country’s geography, history, culture, attractions, and way of life, tourist guides are the primary ambassadors of Eswatini’s tourism product offering.
The HOTAS Official Tour Guide Course is held annually. Details of the 2019 Official Tour Guide course will be released later in the year.