SA tourist guides learn Mandarin and Russian

About 30 South African tourist guides and frontline staff are being trained to communicate in Mandarin and Russian.

The three month training programme of the Department of Tourism is focusing on language tutoring, reading and writing skills, and a course on the culture of both countries.

Speaking at the launch, Deputy Minister of Tourism Tokozile Xasa said the Foreign Language Training Programme will also offer the staff insights into the cultures of the various societies associated with the languages.

“Frontline staff play a critical role in how tourists perceive a country and equally so, tour guides are a vital part of the tourism value chain,” Deputy Minister Xasa said on Wednesday.

The programme will also help to enhance the overall visitor experience and satisfaction, while creating market access opportunities and even employment for the guides and frontline staff, she said.

China and Russia are among the top tourist markets for South Africa.

China has, for example, become the world’s largest outbound tourism source market and the country with the largest outbound tourism consumption.

Statistics from the Department of Tourism indicate that in 2015, no less than a combined total of 139 million Chinese mainland and Russian tourists visited overseas countries and regions.

For the first half of this year, Chinese arrivals to South Africa reached 58 178 which marks an increase of 63.7% when compared to the overseas total growth percentage of 18.6%.

Last year, 7 244 Russian tourists visited South Africa which equates to 0.03% of the total Russian outbound market.

With the relaxation of South African visa requirements the department is anticipating to see an increase in the number of Russian tourists to South Africa.

The Russian language training targeted 10 tourist guides from selected provinces and was based on a needs analysis of the guiding sector in terms of the availability of specialised language skills.

Eight candidates from KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape are being trained in Russian language, while 20 trainees started the Mandarin language training which will be implemented at two separate venues in Gauteng.

The National Department of Tourism will provide transportation, accommodation, food and will also cover other costs related to the implementation of the training programmes.

The tour guides will also receive a monthly stipend of R3,000.

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Source: BusinessTech