By: Nontobeko Moimane – 15 November 2023

The Department of Tourism and Integrated Communication’s Eco-Tourism Unit at the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) recently coordinated a compelling guest lecture, fostering an enriching dialogue between industry experts and Eco-Tourism students. The event, hosted at the Desmond Tutu Great Hall, aimed to cultivate a positive mindset among students as they embark on their future careers.

The focal point of the lecture was to provide students with valuable insights into the expectations of the industry. By featuring prominent figures from the field, the event created a platform for meaningful interactions, allowing students to gather firsthand information and perspectives essential for navigating the complexities of the eco-tourism industry.

In her address, Prof Limpho Lekaota, the esteemed Associate Professor of Tourism at VUT, emphasised the significance of this insightful session. She highlighted the unique opportunity it presents for students to supplement their theoretical knowledge with practical insights, enriching their understanding of the field. Prof Lekaota also underscored the importance of students engaging with industry professionals to explore avenues for Work Integrated Learning (WIL) and potential job opportunities.

The guest speakers for the occasion were distinguished individuals in the eco-tourism sector including Ms. Carol Kekana, an Environmental Monitor at Groenkloof Nature Reserve in the City of Tshwane; Ms. Tumi Shoba, a Nature Conservation Specialist at Kliprivier Nature Reserve in Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo; and Mr. Pandelani Dzhugudhza, the Deputy Director for Environmental and Sector Education at the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment.

These industry experts shared invaluable insights with the students, complemented by motivational talks aimed at inspiring further exploration of the field of eco-tourism. The speakers encouraged the students to conduct extensive research, take pride in their chosen field of study, and recognise the strength and impact they can bring to the world of eco-tourism. This event served as a catalyst for empowering students to confidently embrace the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in their professional journey.

The proceedings concluded in a dynamic question-and-answer session, providing students with a valuable opportunity to actively engage with the esteemed speakers. This interactive session facilitated a deeper exploration of topics, allowing students to collect additional insights into the eco-tourism industry. Particularly noteworthy was the students’ keen interest in learning more about available bursaries and potential job opportunities. The speakers, in turn, generously shared their knowledge and expertise, offering guidance on navigating the pathways to educational support and career advancement within the field. This exchange not only enriched the students’ understanding but also fueled their aspirations as they consider the numerous possibilities in their future careers in eco-tourism.