WILDERNESS NEWS - The Wilderness Village Monitors received training this month to enhance their tourism marketing skills. The group of nine local men, who are well known for keeping the coastal tourist resort clean and safe, will now act as ambassadors for the popular holiday destination.
The skills development opportunity for the Wilderness Village Monitors was facilitated by the George Tourism Department on 2 November at the Wilderness Hotel.
Tourism officers Lindy Harley and Graham de Swart offered the training in collaboration with the Wilderness Ratepayers and Residents Association (WRRA). The purpose of the training was to make the monitors more familiar with tourists' needs so that they can act as ambassadors for the village.
"The highly visible presence of the monitors provides a very reassuring feeling to both residents and visitors to Wilderness," says De Swart. "Tourists can certainly feel confident asking them for help and advice."
During the one-day training, the monitors were informed about the different tourist activities in the town and instructed on giving directions to the hiking trails, beaches and viewpoints. They enhanced their knowledge of the history of the village and received tips on interacting with visitors. In addition, the monitors visited the Map of Africa and the Ebb and Flow section of the Wilderness National Park.
They were taken on an educational tour of the Touws river by local eco tour operator Wilderness River Safaris. The monitors have been employed as formal representatives for the village for the past six years as part of the Wilderness Improvement Programme. The monitor initiative is a joint project between George Municipality, the WRRA, and the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).
The local men, aged between 23 and 50, were previously unemployed. They were specifically selected for this initiative because of their knowledge of the area. The monitors reside in Wilderness Heights, Kleinkrantz, Touwsranten and Hoekwil. They work on a daily basis between 08:00 and 22:00.
Their duties include cleaning and sweeping the roads and paths, picking up rubbish, emptying the garbage bins and patrolling the village. They maintain safety in the area by notifying law enforcement of illegal activities. The monitors are visible in their official safety vests and caps and are identified by name tags.
"This project has been running for over six years and has created a welcoming environment in the town," says supervisor Dawie Ackermann. "The monitors have made Wilderness a safe, clean and friendly tourist destination." WRRA chairman Donald Goldfain said the monitors have developed a very positive reputation and their uniformed presence in the village serves as a deterrent to vagrants, loiterers and criminals. "They give a reassuring feeling of security to residents and holidaymakers."
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