Image: Mr Dewald Venter – VUT Tourism Management Lecturer who’s currently completing his PhD has a passion for military heritage tourism.
History is a narration of the events which have happened among mankind, including an account of the rise and fall of nations, as well as of other great changes which have affected the political and social condition of the human race. —John J. Anderson. 1876. A Manual of General History.
Mr Dewald Venter is a Tourism Management Lecturer who is currently completing his PhD. He describes himself as an amateur military historian with a fascination for military history and a passion for tourism. Combining his fascination and passion has led him to publish an article titled “Examining military heritage tourism as a niche tourism market in the South African context”.
Mr Venter says that military history has often underplayed or erased the indigenous narrative which has only until quite recently shown signs of being addressed in South Africa. An example is the SS Mendi which was transporting mostly indigenous South African soldiers to Europe during the First World War when the cargo ship Darro collided with it during thick mist, killing 616 crew and passengers. The sinking of the SS Mendi is commemorated by a number of monuments in South Africa, Britain, France and the Netherlands.
Military heritage encompasses several components which include military museums, battlefields, memorials and monument, events and festivals, re-enactors and re-enactments and private militaria collectors. Mr Venter points out that military heritage tourism can serve as a platform for various groups to engage in and better appreciate the dynamics of globalisation and expansion, thus empower individuals with an understanding of the world they live in.
In South Africa he is the only one focusing on military heritage tourism and aims to encourage people to learn more about military heritage through tourism. He points out that South African tourism is showing remarkable, steady and sustainable growth and lately there is a growing interest in the stories, lives and experiences of those who fought and died during past conflicts.