This Tourism Week

For your convenience: you can read all the articles on line (click on the links under ‘This Week) – or scroll down and read them right here. In this long – long! – e-mail.

There’s much to tell you.

This Week:

Turn your property into a birding destination

Gold in the Olympics – now Gold in Sustainable Tourism: Two South Africans elected to international council

Garden Route Game Lodge appoints new Cape-based marketer

World skydiving guru to visit, South Africans prepare for new record attempt on Women’s Day: welcome to Polokwane’s annual Ranch Skydiving Boogie

Concerned about Rhino conservation? Please put your money where your mouth is

Book review: Palgrave’s Trees of Southern Africa

Turn your property into a birding destination

Recently had the privilege of attending a presentation by BirdLife SouthAfrica’s regional conservation manager for theWestern Cape, Dale Wright.

The occasion was a meeting of the Lakes Bird Club here in Sedgefield, and, not to put too fine a point on it, Dale lowered the average age in the room by about 80 years.

And being the grumpy old git that I am (I’m in the demographic that raises the average age in a room), there were two things that I wanted to know: can tourism help BirdLife SouthAfrica? And how is the organisation using social media to get younger people interested in conservation.

Dale’s presentation covered the organisation’s goal (to preserve our country’s 844 bird species), and its focus: saving threatened & endemic species; protecting sites (particularly Important Bird Areas – IBAs); conserving habitats like the fynbos and Karoo biomes; and working with people (through bird clubs and cooperation with citizen scientists).

He said thatSouth Africa’s 124 IBAs – which are identified using standardised, science-based criteria – cover about 14 million hectares, but that less than 40% of that total is protected.

And he also said that bird clubs are important ambassadors for conservation because (among other things) their members help with assessment of IBAs; monitoring sites; commenting on applications for development; and through their donations to specific projects. And, too, by becoming citizen scientists with the ADU – (Animal Demography Unit) and members of BirdLife South Africa.

In an interview after his talk, Dale said that the link between tourism and conservation can be quite clear. Birding routes, for example (and there’s a move to develop one for theSouthern Cape) can bring more visitors to an area – which injects more money into local conservation – while the concept of citizen scientists can help with  the collection of data.

“When you go on holiday, you complete an atlas card, and then input that data and so make your contribution.”

So would it help if individual lodges, for instance, were to submit their guests’ bird lists?

“Ja, definitely. The lodges might have managers – like one of the local lodges called ‘Reflections’ – who could almost vet the list. So maybe a UK birder might get the familiar chat and the sickle-wing chat confused, and the manager could make sure that it’s the right species” that’s recorded.

Properties, he said, could also establish projects like ‘My Bird Patch’ through the Animal Demography Unit – and, for example, record the species that visit, and track how populations change over time.

And how is BirdLife SouthAfricagetting involved in social media?

Ah! For answers to that one, you’ll have to use the social media. Like YouTube or This Tourism Week – where you can see my interview with Dale, and like, favourite, and comment on it.

More information at or contact Dale via

Gold in the Olympics – now Gold in Sustainable Tourism: Two South Africans elected to international council

Huge kudos to Heidi van der Watt of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism and Jennifer Seif of Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa on being elected to the Board of Directors of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council – once again proving that this country punches way above its weight in this important approach to tourism.

Read the full media release here.

Garden Route Game Lodge appoints new Cape-based marketer

Garden Route Game Lodge has joined forces with Cape Town-based Big Tree Marketing in a partnership to focus on inbound travel and to  grow domestic and MICE business to the Lodge.

Big Tree Marketing’s portfolio includes hotels and guest houses in thePort ElizabethtoCape Townregion, as well as activities like Gansbaai’s White Shark Projects.

Garden RouteGame Lodge – situated just off the N2, 7 km east of  Albertinia – is malaria free, family friendly, and close enough toCape Townfor two- or three-day breakaways.

The reserve boasts the Big Five – and the birth of three cheetah cubs on the property marked the first time free-roaming cheetah had been born in the Albertinia region in more than 120 years (See ‘Mossel Bay’s first wild cheetah cubs’).

Attractions include a reptile house, a children’s programme, game watching, birding, ranger internship programmes, and conference and wedding venues.

For more information visit : – or if you’re in the Cape and you’d like a personal visit, contact Lindsey Gibaud of Big Tree Marketing: (00)21 531 4634 or (00)82 89 44 276 or

World skydiving guru to visit, South Africans prepare for new record attempt on Women’s Day: welcome to Polokwane’s annual Ranch Skydiving Boogie

Olav Zipser – the father of the fluid, acrobatic and artistic style of skydiving known as FreeFly – will be on hand when a group of South Africans attempt the country’s first ever all-women’s hybrid skydiving display at this year’s Ranch Skydiving Boogie and Symposium.

The Boogie will take place at – and in the skies above – the Protea Hotel Ranch Resort, 25 km south of Polokwane, from the 9th (National Women’s Day) to the 12th of August.

“Olav is a skydiving guru with more than 20,000 jumps to his name, and his coming to the event is an incredible opportunity for South African skydivers,” said Boogie organiser Mike Rumble.

“I’m amped to hear what he has to say about his latest mission.

“He wants to be the first person to skydive from the Karman Line – 100 km above the earth’s surface – and then FreeFly back to Earth in a specially developed supersonic spacesuit.

“But his FreeFly Astronaut Project isn’t a stunt – it’s a serious research mission to imporve our ability to descend safely from the edges of space.

Mr. Rumble said that Mr. Zipser (a German national who skydives professionally around the world) has been practicing FreeFly for 25 years.

“He’s got two things on his agenda for his extended visit toSouth Africa: he’s coming to teach and coach our sports skydivers – and he’s coming as a rhino ambassador.

“After the Boogie, he’ll be  be attending three Skydive For Rhinos events.”

Skydive for Rhinos is an African Conservation Trust project to raise R10 million for tactical support for the fight against rhino poaching.

In ‘hybrid’ skydiving – during which large numbers of skydivers jump simultaneously – some of the jumpers join hands in formation while flying in the traditional ‘belly-to-earth’ position, whilst others – the FreeFlyers – weave in and around them, and fly above and below them.

“We’re hoping to have at least sixteen women in the air for the hybrid attempt, and Olav’s input is going to be invaluable during their practices,” said Mr. Rumble.

The Ranch Skydiving Boogie and Symposium isSouth Africa’s largest sports skydiving get-together. This year’s event will include skydiving – of course – as well as lectures and presentations by experts and adventurers.

“But it’s not just for people who know the sport. There’d be a lot less trouble in the world if everyone just stepped out of their airplanes and flew, and the Boogie is there to introduce you to skydiving if you want to try it out.

“Last year we took 78 people on introductory tandem skydives, and on Women’s Day we trained Miss Limpopo, Kholofelo Madiba, to skydive. After that, we were wondering how we were going to top that kind of success – but I think this year’s hybrid will definitely do that.”

Entry to the Boogie is free, although there will be charges for some individual items on the agenda (such as tandem skydiving and entry to the function on Saturday evening – at which Olav Zipser will be the guest speaker).

Guests wishing to spend more than one day at the Boogie are advised to book their accommodation at the Protea Hotel Ranch Resort as soon as possible.

More information:

The Ranch SkyDiving Boogie and Symposium 2012 on Facebook:

Protea Hotel Ranch Resort:

Accommodation reservations: (use the reference: “Ranch SkyDiving Boogie”)

Tandem skydiving bookings  / 078 029 4803

The FreeFly Astronaut Project and on Facebook:

Event organiser Mike Rumble / 082 926 3591

Concerned about Rhino conservation? Please put your money where your mouth is

Latest reports indicate that the first Skydive for Rhinos event for 2012 – which took place at Skydive Rustenburg from the 27th to the 29th of July – raised more than R 300,000 for the African Conservation Trusts’s tactical support for anti-poaching units across the country.

And in just 90 days time, it’ll be my turn to grip fear by the rip cord and jump for the cause.

To do that, I have to raise R 5,000 – and I’m looking to the tourism industry for your support.  But I wonder – because although my GivenGain account (into which your money should be deposited so that it’ll safely make its way to the Trust) has been open for some weeks, it’s received exactly one donation. Of fifty bucks.


C’mon guys – if you’re not prepared to jump, but you want your guests (and your children) to see rhinos in the future, visit me at GivenGain, and put your money where your mouth is.

Because what is tourism going to sell if South Africa only has the Big Four to market?

Book review: Palgrave’s Trees of Southern Africa

There are three or four books that ought to be the basis of every guest library – and, in fact, every home library – inSouth Africa: Roberts’ Birds, Smither’s Mammals, Smith’s Sea Fishes – and Keith Coates Palgraves’ Trees of Southern Africa.

Palgraves’ magnificent volume was first published in 1977, and, like all the others, has grown in stature, in size – and in quality – with each new edition.

I came into tourism after studying horticulture (it was an excellent training for a tour guide whose main interest was wildlife, and especially the forests and fynbos of the Southern Cape), and I remember toting Palgraves around like a bible in those early days.

But we parted – as you do – and I often wondered what had become of my old friend.

Now, a lifetime, later, here’s his child, on my desk, and me ready to learn this stuff all over again.

Look, it’s true that you’ll only really get the full benefit of Palgraves if you’ve a background in botany – the plant descriptions are highly technical – but the book is also full of interesting information about things like the use of the species in traditional medicine, the kind of wood produced, propagation or germination of the seeds – and habitat, of course.

But if ever there’s a raging argument around the camp fire or at your dinner table about the difference between the Outeniqua yellowwood (Podocarpus falcatus) and the opregte geelhout (Podocarpus latifolius), you’ll be pleased you made the investment.

Buy it here

Now go away on holiday – it’s in the economy’s best interests.
… And in the meantime… have a GREAT tourism week!

Martin Hatchuel
– BarefootWriter

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