The critical tour helped the students to learn more about the key heritage sites in relation to the application of relevant theoretical concepts they are introduced to in class. The personal visit to the various sites and the experience of being a tourist are central learning outcomes of their module.
Lecturer Dr Mabuyi Gumede said, ‘The fieldtrip is a learning exercise that helps the students to rethink, review and reconceptualise their attitudes towards heritage sites, i.e., appreciate their significance, respect the need for their existence and conservation, realise their social, political, economic value and appreciate the need for more community education about the heritage sites.’
The three-day trip was an informative and exciting excursion. The group visited the Blood River/Ncome Museum to learn about the significance of this heritage site in the history of South Africa and differences in the apartheid approach to heritage issues and that in the democratic era.
The focus at Shakaland (Eshowe) was on Zulu culture, through a Shaka Zulu movie, a cultural tour and traditional performances. At Isimangaliso Wetland Park, students experienced first-hand experience the wonders this World Heritage Site offers the tourist while also participating in various activities that focus mainly on natural resources.
Student Ms Dintle Masondo said, ‘This trip broadened my understanding of the tourism field. I learnt that time management, accountability and efficiency are vital in the tourism industry. I wish that more students could participate in it as it exposes one to the realities of this industry.’
Fellow student Mr Siyabonga Jwara commented, ‘Visiting these sites enhanced our understanding of them. We were able to interlink some of the concepts that we were introduced to in class such as heritage authenticity, staged authenticity and heritage commodification. It is better to see a heritage site once than to hear about it a thousand times. The fieldtrip left us with great travel experience, opened our hearts, broadened our minds and filled our lives with stories to share with generations to come.’