Sunday 24 March 2019

South Africa: Tourist shops full of bric-a-brac and no useful brochures

In company for moments
I would have wanted to reflect more and write a lot more on my last trip to South Africa which has the uniquely amazing complement of spending it in the companionship of my partner.
Many things in life can probably be enjoyed alone, but nothing beats the sharing of experiences and moments with a soulmate. The times we visited places and observed, nature, placement, event or exhibit from different or similar perspectives then commented to each other with interest, engagement and involvement were too many to mention.
Many beautiful places to see
The City Sightseeing Tour of Johannesburg was the beginning of shared experiences that were not just between us, the many pictures taken of the locations around the Constitution Hill all into Soweto and back, made for an eventful and unforgettable day.
After our day out at Zoo Lake, there were visits to the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens, Lilliesleaf Farm that gave rise to the Rivonia Trial, Hartbeespoort Aerial Cableway onto the Magaliesberg Mountains overlooking the Hartbeespoort Dam and then the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History in Pretoria.
I don’t want tatty bric-a-brac
All these locations seemed to have shops for souvenirs, African goods and bric-a-brac, however, they were all lacking in essential carefully curated brochures or books about the locations we were at. The gardens, the farm, the dam and museum all had oodles of information about nature and exhibits, many panels of information that you could read throughout the site, and except if you were snapping away with your camera, more than half what was observed would probably be forgotten.
The purpose of a site location brochure or book is not only to document every aspect of the broadly tourist location but also to give background and context to all the features on display. This is a job that can be given to academia in South Africa and I think they would enthusiastically engage to help in this regard.
I want to leave these locations with experiences, sometimes I cannot see everything, having a brochure or guide in at least English and some other languages can make any visit a rewarding and educational experience as one reads up on the detail of where one has gone.
This must be a critical project
The shops did not serve any of the tourist locations well, even when I had previously gone to the Voortrekker Monument near Pretoria or the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town, there was a dearth of useful information to take away beyond the on-location experience.
Having travelled around the world and seen that even museums and tourist locations put some work into producing brochures, books, manuals or guides. It is my solemn advice to whoever is in charge of Tourism in South Africa to make this a critical deliverable with the utmost alacrity.
The memories I captured can be found on my other blog.

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